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Don't Believe in Santa? NORAD Tracks Him

December 20, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Anyone in Missouri who says they don't believe in Santa may want to check in with the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD is responsible for keeping the airspace safe over North America, and every Christmas Eve, its radar spots Santa racing around the world dropping off tons of gifts.

How does he get all that work done in just one night? Lt. Stacey Knott, who works with NORAD, knows.

"We've asked him about that. Santa is in a different kind of time plane, so time is a little different for him. That's how he is able to get all around the world in just that little bit of time."

According to Knott, Santa usually begins his rounds in the Eastern hemisphere, and when he arrives in North America, NORAD's fighter jets intercept him to wish him a safe journey. Based on flight data information gathered during more than 50 years of tracking, NORAD officials say they believe that Santa is alive in the hearts and minds of people in Missouri and all over the planet.

Knott says preparations are already in place for the intercept over North America.

"We are going up and meeting him with our fighter aircraft to make sure he travels safely across our country, and then we're tipping the wings to him, to say hello from our jets."

For Missouri children who track Santa on the Web or by phone on Christmas Eve, Knott has this advice.

"You've got to get to bed and get to sleep before Santa arrives in your neighborhood, or else he won't stop at your house right away. He'll try to come back later when you are asleep, but he won't come right then."

Knott says she has seen the sleigh on radar...but has she seen Santa in person?

"I haven't. I'm always making sure I'm in bed and asleep so I'll get my presents. So I haven't seen him, but I thought one time that I heard some jingling and maybe some little reindeer hooves on the roof."

Every year, more than 1,200 uniformed personnel and civilians volunteer their time to answer thousands of phone calls and e-mails that pour in from around the world on Christmas Eve, Knott adds.

To track Santa yourself, go to or call 877-HI NORAD (877-446-6723).

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO