‘Tis the season for Santa tracking. This year, Santa has been hosting socially distant visits at local malls and connected with kids via Zoom. Santa has been spotted up and down the Seacoast, and visited Portsmouth, Dover, Kittery, and Seabrook last Saturday. Santa and his reindeer also joined Biddeford’s Holiday Ride, a parade in Somerswoth, and the Seacoast Area Firefighters Toy Drive in Rye.

Since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa’s travels using military radar. According to a National Public Radio story, it began as an accident. Colonel Harry Shoup, stationed in Colorado Springs, had two phone lines as a part of his work with the military. In December 1955, one of the phones rang asking for Santa Claus.

At first, Col. Shoup thought it was a prank. But when he realized it was a child, he played along. It turns out, there had been Sears advertisement in the local paper that had accidentally printed the military’s phone number.

Children kept calling and the airmen kept pretending to be Santa Claus.

On Christmas Eve in 1955, Col. Shoup called into a radio station and reported an unidentified flying object that looked like a sleigh. Immediately after, radio stations began calling to ask him about Santa’s whereabouts. Thus, Santa tracking became a part of the holiday season.

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The tradition is now in its 65th year. Each Christmas, over one thousand military volunteers track Santa from the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado over a 24-hour period. They use a combination of radar, satellites, Santa Cams, and the light from Rudolph’s nose to track Santa’s whereabouts.

Today, it’s easier to track Santa than ever before. Updates can be found on the NORAD Tracks Santa website, Facebook, and Twitter as well as the NORAD Tracks Santa app and the Google Santa Tracker. Early sightings report Santa is wearing his mask this year.

To follow his journey from the North Pole to New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and beyond be sure to check the Seacoast’s tracker. Be sure to have your milk and cookies ready!

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