Certain cities may be going back into lockdown, but children can still watch as Santa Claus delivers his gifts around the world. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has vowed to track St. Nick on Christmas Eve even amid the global pandemic.
NORAD’s tradition tracking Santa Claus started in 1955, when a kid accidentally called the military command, believing it was the number for Santa Claus. She had found the number in a misprinted newspaper department store ad.
A commander on duty answered the phone pretending to be Father Christmas, and thus the tradition continued over the next 65 years.
This year, however, might look a little different.
In the past, NORAD’s Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs invited more than 1,500 volunteers over the span of the night to come answer phone calls from eager children, letting them know if Santa’s sleigh has reached their rooftops. This year, they're cutting down the number of volunteers drastically, according to the Associated Press.
While some callers will be lucky enough to get through, most will instead receive an automated message about Santa’s current location.
“We understand this is a time-honored tradition, and we know undoubtedly there is going to be some disappointment,” said NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter. “But we’re trying to keep it safe for everyone involved.”
They anticipate only inviting volunteers that already work at that location and their immediate family members. They will also be asked to fill out health questionnaires, have their temperature checked, and a cleaning crew will be sanitizing the space throughout the day.
Alternatively, in addition to calling NORAD for Santa’s location at the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD, kids can also visit their website or social media pages for updates.