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Santa-tracking Web site takes up the watch

By Erica Hill
CNN Headline News

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(CNN) -- It's that time of year: The children are nestled all snug in their beds, anxiously waiting for the sound of reindeer hoofs overhead.

It's doubtful it will ever be easy for kids to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. But one way some parents show their children Santa is on his way -- and therefore they need to be asleep -- is to keep track of Jolly Ol' Saint Nick's travels.

One of my all-time favorite Web sites is NoradSanta (, where the folks of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) track Santa's progress.

NORAD is a joint U.S.-Canadian military operation first created in 1958 to monitor the skies over the two countries and warn of missile or air attacks against the United States or Canada. NORAD's Santa-tracking duties began even before the organization was established.

In 1955, a local newspaper mistakenly published the number for NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command, instead of a department store's "Santa Hotline." The senior officer took it in stride, and told kids he was helping Santa make his way around the world. In 1957, Santa tracking became official, and in 1997, it went online.

North American Aerospace Defense Command
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These days, you can log on for real-time Santa info in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Japanese, including radar maps and SantaCam video of his Christmas journey.

NORAD also said it has declassified photos of Santa from the past 40 years, which are now available on the site, as are SantaCam videos from his trip last year.

He's cleared for this year's trip. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta approved a flight certificate for Kris Kringle this weekend, saying Santa is fit for duty and has a perfect delivery record. Mineta also mentioned Santa's special navigational light, Rudolph's red nose.

Before you tuck the little ones in this Christmas Eve, be sure to log on. Or if you can't get online, you can call the toll-free hotline at 1-877-HI-NORAD, but get them to sleep before Santa gets too close. You want to make sure he doesn't pass you by!

Happy Holidays!

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