(Photo : Google Santa Tracker)
Sixty years ago, a Colorado Spring Sears ran an ad encouraging kids to call Santa Claus, only the company made a typo in the phone number.
Instead of reaching jolly old St. Nick, they got Harry Shoup at the Continental Air Defense Command center, the government facility currently known as NORAD.
Shoup, a colonel at the time, could have disappointed children by telling them it was a wrong number. Instead, he had command center operators "track" Santa as he journey across the world, and he had them tell children his precise location.
"Santa Colonel's" tradition lives on today as hundreds of volunteers, many within NORAD, work around the clock on Christmas Eve, fielding hundreds of thousands of call from over 200 countries. Last year they received over 135,000.
"The Santa Tracker uses the same technology that's powering the government's critical systems," said Susan Keys, head of Avaya Government Solutions told CNN. "Of course, it's more sophisticated tech today than it was 60 years ago."
But Santa tracker technology has advanced over time, and noradsanta.org was set up to live track the round-the-world journey in real time. NORAD's site features 3D technology on animated depictions of Santa's Village. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts were set up so kinds have games to play while they wait.
NORAD also offers a Santa Cam, which shows Father Christmas over famous landmarks. All of his stops are documented under the website's "Movies" section.
Google took a more educational approach in creating their own Santa Tracker program some 11 years ago. The search engine gives children fun facts about the places Santa visits while giving viewers his most recent location. Last year's version gave his real-time location, this year's doesn't, but it may change as Christmas day arrives.