Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Live: Santa Claus tracker - see where Father Christmas is right now as we track him across UK, Ireland, America, Africa, Australia and Asia

Santa Claus has urged children around the world to get to bed early tonight, to remember to hang out their stockings and most important of all - no peeping.

Speaking ahead of his epic journey, Santa said: “I hope you all have a lovely Christmas. Early to bed, no peeping, no traps. And by the way, no toys on the floor... that’s a very sore thing."

Every year since 1955, Norad (North American Aerospace Defense Command), the airforces whose usual responsibility involves defending US airspace, devote some of their time to tracking the progress of a fat white-bearded gentleman as he darts around the globe on a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

The Santa Tracker programme began when on December 24 1955 a Sears department store placed an advert in a a Colorado Springs newspaper which invited young readers to contact Santa.

Unfortunately they printed the wrong number, directing people instead to the number for Colorado Springs' Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Centre.

 

 

The colonel who was on duty that night - Harry Shoup - instructed his staff to give all the children who called a "current location" for Santa Claus, and hence the tradition began. It continued when Norad replaced Conad in 1958.

Such is the demand for information on Santa's progress that Norad today employs volunteers to man the phones. It is estimated that they handle around 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries.

The Santa Tracker has become more advanced over the years and has taken to social media with accounts on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Although Norad have a significant task ahead of them tracking Santa it is nothing as compared to the challenge the man in red and white himself faces.

Santa has to deliver to presents to an estimated 1.6 billion children on Christmas Eve. A task that requires him to visit 822 homes a second and travel at 650 miles a second - which is 3,000 times the speed of sound.