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Good boys and girls of Utah can track Santa on NORAD and Google

By Robyn Burkinshaw, Contributor | Posted - Dec. 24, 2019 at 8:19 p.m.

THE NORTH POLE — You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen... and because of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) we know their whereabouts on Christmas Eve and the number of presents Santa is busy delivering to good little girls and boys all over the world.

And because Google does literally everything, we now have a tracker from them, too. Curious boys and girls can also play games and take a Santa selfie among other surprises on both tracking websites.

The good boys and girls of Utah can expect Santa to hit their homes about 4 a.m., according to Google.

Since 1955, the dutiful men and women of NORAD have provided the Santa Tracker for over 60 years as part of its largest community outreach program to the delight of all kids from 1 to 92.

Like many good things that happen in life, NORAD’s Santa Tracker program started by accident; providence if you will. According to a press release from NORAD, "It all started in 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly — only the contact number in the advertisement was misprinted.

"Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD. Col. Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the child he was Santa."

Shoup had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and the tradition began. NORAD replaced CONAD in 1958 and took over operations. Shoup, who died in 2009, was designated “NORAD’s First Santa Tracker.”

The Santa Tracking begins Dec. 24, but the website ramps up on Dec. 1. Santa took off in the early hours Tuesday, making his first stop in Russia.

The program is sponsored by the generosity and resources of numerous sponsors; volunteers field phone calls made to 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723), in addition to emails, tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook messages.

In a world that isn’t always kind, NORAD’s Santa Tracker serves as a reminder to us all as we reflect on good things that make life bearable. As the spirit of Santa and his reindeer travels the world visiting children of different races, who speak different languages, have different economic circumstances, and more often than not different beliefs, may we remember to hold that kindness close to our hearts in the coming year cause you better be good for goodness sake.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Robyn Burkinshaw

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