Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

Norad Santa Tracker live 2019: where is Father Christmas?

Follow the latest updates as Santa Claus travels around the world on Christmas Eve from the Norad tracker

He might know when you are sleeping, he might know when you’re awake – but you can turn the tables on Santa and follow Father Christmas as he travels around the world delivering presents.

Santa is well on his way to delivering the millions of presents he hands out each year as he lands on snowy rooftops and slides down chimneys all over the world.

The tracking service might not be the usual work of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad), but it is something the force has done for the past 60 years.

“In addition to our day-to-day mission of defending North America, we are proud to carry on the tradition of tracking Santa as he travels along his Yuletide flight path,” said Gen Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of Norad and US Northern Command. “The same radars, satellites and interceptors employed on December 24 are used year-round to defend Canadian and American airspace from threats.”

The tradition might be old but this year, for the first time, US astronauts lent a hand.

“We have obtained visual confirmation that Santa is currently travelling south over India,” Andrew Morgan said via a video link as he floated at zero gravity in the International Space Station.

Norad said the ISS was travelling at 27,000 kilometres an hour, 250 miles above Earth – providing “a great vantage point to spot Santa on his annual journey around the world.”

“Norad appreciates the support of Colonel Morgan and the ISS team,” it said.

Today, 1,500 volunteers help the military answer calls and emails from children.

US first lady Melania Trump joined the effort, listening to several youngsters from across the United States tick off items on their Christmas lists. She reminded them to put out milk and cookies for Santa.

The US Department of Agriculture said “Mr S. Nicholas Claus” and his reindeer had been granted a special movement permit to enter the country and were “fit for landing on rooftops”.

After Santa leaves the North Pole, he heads to Russia and Asia before flying around to North and South America, over to Africa, and up and over Europe before returning to the North Pole.

So how did the six-decade tradition begin?

The force explained that in 1955, a local newspaper advert informed children they could call Santa directly but the contact number listed was misprinted. Instead of dialling Father Christmas, a young girl was instead connected to Colonel Harry Shoup, the duty commander at Norad’s predecessor that Christmas.

Rather than correcting the child, he played along – and then Col Shoup assigned a duty officer to answer the calls and update other children on the progress of Santa, sparking the tradition.

Today, you can still call Norad for updates from one of more than 1,500 volunteers on 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).

Updated: December 25, 2019 11:20 AM

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