How to follow Santa’s Christmas sleigh ride with NORAD — and how the tradition accidentally began

How to follow Santa's Christmas sleigh ride with NORAD — and how the tradition accidentally began

The jolly man in red is on the move.

North America’s premier Kris Kringle tracker is following Santa Claus this Christmas Eve, so here’s how to see where St. Nick will be next.

From Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is proudly tracking Santa for the 65th year. Believers can follow Santa’s path on Dec. 24 in several different ways, including noradsanta.org, on Twitter, via smartphone apps or with a good old -fashioned phone call to the toll-free 1-877-Hi-NORAD.  

NORAD commander Gen. Glen VanHerck confirmed that Rudolph is indeed leading the brigade of flying reindeer this year.

NORAD commander Gen. Glen VanHerck confirmed that Rudolph is indeed leading the brigade of flying reindeer this year. (iStock)

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In an early morning interview with “Fox & Friends,” NORAD commander Gen. Glen VanHerck revealed Santa’s latest whereabouts and explained why this year’s flight around the globe is particularly out of this world.

“He has been busy – he’s been to Russia, he’s been through the Pacific Islands, down to New Zealand,” VanHerck said. “He made a quick stop at the International Space Station before going to Antarctica, and he’s on his way back to Russia.”

The NORAD commander added that his team was “so excited” about St. Nick flying to the International Space Station for the very first time.

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In a tip to kids everywhere, VanHerck urged youngsters not to tuck into bed too late, as “Santa tends to arrive between 9 p.m. and at midnight.”

Celebrating Christmas cheer, the Air Force general confirmed that Rudolph is once again leading the brigade of flying reindeer.

“We picked Rudolph’s nose up, it gives off a heat signature. Our satellites detected that soon after he left the North Pole,” he told host Griff Jenkins. “So I’m happy to say that Rudolph is with Santa this year.”

NORAD’s sweet tradition began by accident in 1955 when Air Force Col. Harry Shoup — the commander on duty at the center’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command — answered a call from a child who rang a telephone number misprinted in a newspaper department store ad, trying to get in touch with Santa.

The quick-thinking Shoup assured the girl he was Kris Kringle, and the rest is history.

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On Christmas Eve, NORAD usually fields its first early-morning calls from Japan and Europe, answering more from the U.S. and Canada as the day goes on.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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