MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – For some South Florida families it’s become a time honored tradition – using their computers or phones to track Santa’s flight as he delivers presents to good children across the globe.
There are a number of ways to keep tabs on the Jolly Ol’ Elf thanks to the volunteers at NORAD Tracks Santa who are ready for their 59th annual goodwill mission.
The first shift of Santa trackers started taking calls early Wednesday at 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723), telling children, and some adults, when Santa is due at their house. The last shift won’t end until nearly 24 hours later.
The volunteers work from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., home of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canada command responsible for protecting the skies over both nations, says its Santa-tracking rite was born of a humble typo in a newspaper ad in 1955.
The ad in a Colorado Springs newspaper invited children to call Santa but inadvertently listed the phone number for the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD’s predecessor, also based in Colorado Springs.
CONAD officers played along, and word spread that this Cold War military command charged with guarding the U.S. against an attack by the Soviet Union was also telling kids where Santa was.
Since then, NORAD Tracks Santa has gone global, progressing through bulletins on AM radios and black-and-white TVs to updates on Facebook, Twitter and smartphone apps.
Last year, volunteers answered more than 110,000 calls. The NORAD Tracks Santa website attracted more than 20 million visitors from 220 countries and territories during December 2012
TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)