NORAD Sets Sights on Santa
Bizarre tradition dates back to misprinted Christmas ad in 1955
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2009 4:44 PM CST
The misprinted 1955 ad that started the bizarre tradition.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The North American Aerospace Defense Command is ready for its busiest night of the year, when it puts mundane tasks like looking for wandering Russian bombers or North Korean missiles on the back burner and tracks Santa Claus. As it has every Christmas for more than 50 years, NORAD offers updates on St. Nick’s position—these days, online and in real time.

The agency doesn’t play down the sheer ridiculousness of the tradition’s beginning, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. A store ad urging kids to call Santa had a misprint: NORAD’s telephone number. But the trackers are deadly serious—or so they say. NORAD monitors the beginning of Santa’s trip with 47 radar sites near the Arctic Circle, and after that tracks him with infrared satellites, aided by Rudolph’s nose’s heat signature. To track the big guy yourself, click here.