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On Christmas Eve, every parent knows that the line about “children being nestled all snug in their beds” is a myth. After all, it’s hard to sleep when Old Saint Nick could come tumbling down the chimney at any minute. But thanks to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline, based at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, you can calm some of their jitters by letting them call in to discover the whereabouts of the big man himself.
From 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve until 3 a.m. on Christmas Day, kids can go to noradsanta.org or call 877-HI-NORAD to find Santa as he makes his way from the North Pole to their home countries. Using a global voice network from Level 3 Communications in Broomfield, more than 1,500 volunteers with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) call center can take more than 160 phone calls simultaneously. (Since they received nearly 135,000 phone calls during a 23-hour window last year, sustaining such a high volume of traffic is essential.) “The service makes people happy,” says Tracy Schaufler, general manager of Level 3. “It’s a great way to support our families and our community.”
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Tracking Santa began by accident in 1955, when the Sears & Roebuck Co. in Colorado Springs misprinted Santa’s telephone number in an ad, and eager children directed their calls to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) instead. Colonel Harry Shoup and his staff used their radar to give kids updates on Santa’s trek south. NORAD, the successor to CONAD, has been continuing the tradition since its creation in 1958.