Christmas is here and for all those tech-savvy children eager to know just where Santa Claus is and when the genial Father Christmas will slide down the chimney with presents, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) offers a tracking app.
"Every December 24th since 1955 we have been telling children exactly where Santa is so that children all over the world can make sure that they're in bed on time so that Santa will deliver their presents," Stacey Knott, the deputy chief at NORAD, explained to Reuters.
And the reason why an US-Canadian military organisation takes the trouble of tracking Santa, every year for more than half a century, is particularly charming.
In 1955, a mis-printed advertisement (from a local department store) led scores of children to call the Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD's predecessor) on a telephone line normally reserved for the President of the United States!
The mis-printed ad line was: "Hey, Kiddies! Call me direct and be sure and dial the correct number." As fate would have it, the "correct number" turned out to be the incorrect one.
A Colonel Harry Shoup was on duty that night and in the spirit of the season, the Colonel immediately directed his operators to track Santa Claus and reported his location to the child waiting on the line. And thus a Christmas tradition was born.
Reuters reports NORAD was bombarded with over 100,000 phone calls and nearly 8,000 emails from children around the world last year alone and so many are the questions on Santa Claus' locations, the US military agency has to seek volunteers to help run the project.
How to Track Santa
- iOS (download from iTunes)
- Android (download from the Google Play Store)
- Windows 8 (download from the Windows Store)
If downloading the apps is not an option, check out the official Web site of this Santa Claus-tracking exercise (available in a number of languages). However, remember the site only goes live on 24 December. You can also send an e-mail to this address - firstname.lastname@example.org - on Christmas Eve to get information on Santa's whereabouts.
Finally, when asked how Santa Claus manages to deliver so many gifts in one night, Knott replied, "Number one, Santa flies faster than starlight. But we're not completely sure how he does it. It's a little bit of magic."