Tracking Santa

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Santa's big night is fast-approaching. But he can’t deliver presents to all the boys and girls by himself. That’s why the jolly old elf relies on volunteers in Colorado Springs to track his whereabouts all over the world.

Last-minute preparations are being made at NORAD to ensure another successful Christmas Eve. It's been 49 years since the military agency began its tradition of Tracking Santa.

The man who answered the very first Santa Tracking phone call in the mid 1950's was at Peterson Air Force Base on Monday to share his experience with others.

"I thought she was joking. She said you're not the real Santa! Ha, ha, ha. Yes, I am." Harry Shoup is the original Santa Tracker. The story goes like this: The tradition started after a Colorado Springs store's advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included a misprinted telephone number. Harry was the NORAD employee at the end of that wrong number.

The tradition has grown over the years. Hundreds of people volunteer on Christmas Eve to answer phones and read e-mails from thousands of boys and girls looking for Santa. "It's exciting! How many people walk out of center and say it's made my Christmas. Getting calls from U.S., Canada and their able to give information."

Tracking Santa's whereabouts has become a worldwide event. Phone calls are answered in six different languages. "It's fun because you're bringing joy to a lot of kids around the world," says Major Douglas Martin of NORAD.

As for the man behind the beard, his wife says he's resting for his long journey. "Santa's ready--we're raring to go."

If you would like to track Santa's whereabouts on Christmas Eve, go to our link on the homepage. You can also call 1-877-HI-NORAD to check on Santa's progress.