For the past 63 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its top-of-the-line radar system has tracked Santa Claus as he delivers presents to all the good boys and girls around the world. And this year will be no different, despite a government shutdown that began on Friday.
The organization says military personnel and more than 1,500 volunteers are on hand to field calls all day to let kids all over the world exactly where Santa and his nine reindeer are currently located. Thanks to NORAD's extensive radar and satellite system the organization says they can track Rudolph's bright red nose using its infrared technology.
To ensure Santa has a safe journey, NORAD's jet fighters often escort the world's most famous elf while he's flying over Canada and the United States.
The tradition began 63 years ago in 1955 after Sears Roebuck & Co (which is based in Colorado) accidentally printed a telephone number in an ad for children who wished to call Santa Claus. The number ended up being for the Continental Air Defense Command center instead of the hotline.
Colonel Harry Shoup, who was on duty that night, didn't blink at the influx of calls about Santa. That night, he and his staff answered phone calls letting kids know exactly where Santa was flying during Christmas Eve. In 1958, when NORAD was created, the organization took over those duties, and have been answering calls on Christmas Eve ever since.
Ever year, hundreds of people volunteer at the 'Santa Tracker' command center. Last year, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump took phone calls from kids to let them know where Santa was. Former First Lady Michelle Obama also volunteered, answering phone calls for more than 6 years during her time in the White House.
Santa generally begins his route somewhere over the International Date Line and continues west from there. NORAD says their Santa Tracker can allow anyone to see St. Nick's location during his journey, but warn that they don't know exactly when Santa stops at each house, and says they can only guarantee he'll stop by the house once the kids fall asleep.
As to how Santa manages to visit so many children in one night? NORAD's working theory is that "Santa does not experience time the way we do," NORAD's website says. "His trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months."
You can follow along with Santa this year by clicking here. Or you can call NORAD's Santa Operations Center at 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723). You can also email NORAD at firstname.lastname@example.org.