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Bogey on the Scope or Santa Going South?

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 1998 – If you are like most parents, you will soon tire of answering the question, "When's Santa coming?"

Now you can point your child to a Web site that can answer that question for you. Just point your Internet browser to www.noradsanta.org/ and your child can track Santa with the help of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

NORAD started tracking Santa 44 years ago after a Colorado Springs, Colo., newspaper misprinted the phone number of a department store Call Santa line for children. Thanks to the typo, the first Santa call went to Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, director of operations of the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor.

NORAD legend has it Shoup immediately had his staff check their radar data for any indication that Santa was making his way south from the North Pole. Those first radar wise men did indeed find signs of Santa and updated young callers on his Christmas Eve travels.

A tradition was born. Radio and television stations began running NORAD's tracking data so children around the United States and Canada could keep tabs on St. Nick.

Last year, NORAD posted the information on a Web site that includes all sorts of other trivia: how much milk and cookies Santa eats, how he gets up and down those chimneys, and more. The site supports English, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese and this year will track Santa on Christmas Eve using digital animation, satellite and cockpit images, and audio reports from NORAD.

Maybe the kids will be so engrossed, you'll have enough uninterrupted time to assemble all those toys.

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