NORFOLK, Va. - This year has been anything but ordinary, with nearly every facet of life impacted by the pandemic, but there's one tradition that is proceeding as usual: Santa's journey around the world.
For the 65th year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is tracking Santa, his sleigh, and flying reindeer.
The Santa Tracker Hotline, 1-877-Hi-NORAD, is still active, but this year not every child will get to speak to a live volunteer with some getting a pre-recorded message because of the pandemic.
"We have a reduced footprint in our call center when it comes to the number of volunteers, but we do have people answering phones in the call center socially distanced and as well as outside the call center. So what we've done this year is in addition to spreading everybody out to make sure that everybody is safe is we will also be ensuring that anyone who calls in who does not have access to a volunteer will get a recording and a live update as to where Santa is at that point in time," Major Jen Jones with NORAD explained to News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.
The tradition began in 1955 when Col. Harry Shoup of the Continental Air Defense Command took a call from a child looking for Santa after dialing a misprinted phone number for a department store.
"It's extremely special and it's fascinating to watch. He's such an experienced flier and we are constantly in awe of how he executes his mission. Year after year after year, we constantly learn new things about Santa. We're just, we're just thrilled to be a part of the experience," Major Jones commented.
You can track Santa's journey around the world here and below starting at 4 a.m. Thursday: