Santa's travelling at 'speed of starlight': NORAD

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) on Tuesday (December 24) kept up its decades-long Yuletide custom of tracking Santa Claus on his reindeer-powered sleigh.

NORAD's Santa-tracking website,, provides real-time animated updates of the worldwide journey. The site attracts nearly 1 million unique visitors annually. Some 1,500 volunteers, both civilian and military, staff the computers and a Santa hotline.

The tradition started in 1955 when a Sears Roebuck department store in Colorado Springs misprinted the phone number to the North Pole in a newspaper advertisement for kids to call in and speak to Santa.

Instead, the number rang to what was then called the Continental Air Defense Command, according to NORAD's website.

Renamed NORAD three years later as a combined Canadian and U.S. agency, the Santa-tracking tradition has continued. It now employs social media sites and smart phone apps to spread the word on Santa's whereabouts.