Reality Check: Tracking Santa, a serious business - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Reality Check: Tracking Santa, a serious business

CINCINNATI (FOX19) -

The United States and Canada keep a close eye on Saint Nick as he embarks on the annual frenetic race against the clock, delivering toys to boys and girls the world over.

Tracking the Jolly Old Elf is a tradition that dates back nearly 60 years when a Sears and Roebuck department store placed an ad in a Colorado Springs newspaper telling children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. The telephone number was misprinted and calls instead went to Colorado Springs' Continental Air Defense Command Center aka CONAD. A Colonel in charge that night told his staff to give children who called in a "current location" for Santa Claus.

Major Jamie Humphries (USAF) from NORAD tells FOX19 NOW that since that fateful night, tracking Santa has become a huge endeavor.

"We have about 15 or 16 hundred volunteers that give up their Christmas Eve that evening into Christmas that come in and take calls from people all over the globe from Japan to England to Ireland to Scotland - to all over the US,” said Major Humphries.

NORAD employs sophisticated tracking charts which work hand in hand with their own radar network known as the "North Warning System:"

"With this powerful system we track forty seven installations across Canada and Alaska with satellites that track Santa and we have Jet fighters CF-18 Canadian fighters and F-16/F-22 US fighters that track Santa,” adds Major Humphries.

Keeping up with Santa isn't easy. FOX19 NOW has obtained detailed specs on his ride. With a propulsion system powered by nine reindeer, his sleigh travels at the speed of light, (that's 186,000 miles per second). The weight of the gifts at takeoff is 60,000 tons. The sleigh is armed with defensive measures - special antlers designated for defense only.

In case mom and dad are wondering, tracking Santa doesn't cost taxpayers a dime. Funding is solely provided through corporate donations.

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