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NORAD Follows Santa Claus Around the World


    24 December, 2019

    Children around the world want to know where a happy old man and his sleigh full of gifts are on Christmas Eve.

    Christmas and its many traditions are observed around the world on December 25.

    For the 64th year, a program run by the U.S. and Canadian militaries will give updates about the location of Santa Claus, also known as Papa Noel, Saint Nick or Father Christmas

    This year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, is offering new ways for children and parents to follow Santa's movements.

    Children and adults can follow Santa on Alexa, OnStar, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and 3-D apps. Cesium, a Philadelphia-based information technology company and defense contractor, developed the apps. They use satellite technology with high-resolution graphics. These graphics show the real positions of the stars, sun and moon and even the shadows they cast at any point in Santa's trip.

    Operation NORAD Tracks Santa has continued for a long time. It all started with a telephone call in 1955. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup received a call from a young child. The child thought she was calling Santa.

    The fast-thinking Shoup quickly told his caller that he was, and a tradition was born.

    A playbook sits next to a telephone set up in the NORAD Tracks Santa center at Peterson Air Force Base, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 1,500 volunteers will handle an estimated 140,000 telephone calls from children and their parents who will be checking on the wherabouts of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
    A playbook sits next to a telephone set up in the NORAD Tracks Santa center at Peterson Air Force Base, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 1,500 volunteers will handle an estimated 140,000 telephone calls from children and their parents who will be checking on the wherabouts of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    Today, about 1,500 volunteers take emails and telephone calls to 1-877-HI-NORAD, or 1-877-446-6723. They work at phone banks at Peterson Air Force Base, in the state of Colorado.

    Most early calls come from Japan and Europe, the Associated Press reports. Then, many calls come from the U.S. and Canada, said program manager Preston Schlachter. Callers from Britain ask about Father Christmas. Those in France generally ask about Papa Noel.

    For team members, once "Big Red" — Santa's code name — is in the air, Schlachter said, "it's off to the races. I've never had a block of time move so quickly," he said.

    I'm John Russell.

    James Anderson reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted her story for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    sleigh – n. a large, open vehicle that is usually pulled by a horse over snow or ice

    location –n. the place where something is positioned at a certain time

    app – n. computers : a computer program that performs a special function

    graphics – n. pictures or images on the screen of a computer, television, etc.

    cast – v. to send (something) out or forward

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