Jets are scrambling and America's military might is mobilizing to track Santa. The red-suited airborne visitor is expected to enter U.S. air space soon.
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Nerve center for the tracking operation is a tense and expectant Colorado Air Force base where volunteers monitor maps showing Santa Claus' progress. Surveillance imagery reveals his sleigh is laden with gifts. The recipients are still unidentified, but intelligence sources and hopeful children are frantically checking all sources before the North Pole national arrives.
Only hours into their mission, NORAD has already answered more than 10,000 phone calls from people asking about the jolly intruder. Phones are ringing nonstop at Peterson Air Force Base, headquarters of the North American Aerospace Command's annual Santa-tracking operation. Dozens of helpers at NORAD are taking calls and tracking Santa's location on large projection screens. The first shift of Santa trackers started taking calls early Monday at 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723), telling children — and some adults — when Santa is due at their house. The last shift won't end until nearly 24 hours later.
They'll also post updates online (http://www.noradsanta.org), on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/noradsanta) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/NoradSanta).
President Barack Obama has issued instructions from his listening post in Hawaii that the country be ready for any eventuality. Volunteers also are posting updates for more than 1 million Facebook fans and 107,000 Twitter followers. The maps show Santa began his aerial transit in Australia and has been steadily heading west to the American heartland. The volunteers will keep updating through 3 a.m. Mountain Time on Christmas morning. NORAD Tracks Santa began in 1955 when a newspaper ad listed the wrong phone number for kids to call Santa. They wound up calling the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor, and a tradition was born.