The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed it will be tracking Santa’s Christmas journey this year, marking its 66th anniversary of tracking Santa’s whereabouts as he and his reindeer travel around the globe on Dec. 24.
The command, part of the Department of Defense (DoD), typically tracks airplanes, missiles, and space launches, using its satellites equipped with infrared sensors. On Dec. 24, the command can track Santa’s sleigh by detecting Rudolph’s bright red nose, which gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch.
“Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, NORAD defends North America by tracking airplanes, missiles, space launches, and anything else that flies in or around the North American continent,” Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, NORAD’s commander said. “As we have since 1955, this Dec. 24th we are once again ready for our no-fail mission of tracking Santa.”
Kids can track Santa on Christmas Eve through the NORAD Tracks Santa website, the official NORAD Tracks Santa app, or by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).
The Santa tracking effort is made possible entirely by volunteers, with more than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and DoD civilians volunteering their time to answer the thousands of phone calls that come in from around the world.
Although COVID-19 will reduce the number of volunteers at traditional call centers, DoD officials said remote volunteers and virtual call center capabilities will be in full force.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby also confirmed that the DoD has “all kinds of capabilities” to track Santa this year and that he will be safe from COVID-19 on his yuletide journey.
“He will be kept safe. Of course he will be,” Kirby said during a Dec. 20 press conference. “My granddaughter definitely wants to know. Yes, he will be kept safe [from COVID].”
NORAD officials also reminded trackers that Santa only visits the houses of children that are sleeping. If children are still awake when Santa arrives, he will move on to other houses and return once they are asleep.