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Don't Believe in Santa? NORAD Tracks Him

December 20, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - Those in Minnesota who say 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 in North America, and every Christmas Eve, its radar spots Santa racing around the world and dropping off tons of gifts.

So how does he get all that work done in just one night? Lt. Stacey Knott, who works with NORAD, says it's a matter of physics.

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

Lt. Knott says 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.

Lt. 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 that he travels safely across our country, and then kind of tipping the wings to him, to say 'hello' from our jets."

For Minnesota children who track Santa on the Web, or by phone, on Christmas Eve, Lt. Knott has some advice.

"You've got to get to bed and got to 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."

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

"I haven't. 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 I heard some jingling, and maybe some little reindeer hooves on the roof."

She says every year on Christmas Eve, more than 1200 uniformed personnel and civilians volunteer their time to answer thousands of phone calls and e-mails that pour in from around the world.

Based on information gathered during more than 50 years of tracking him, NORAD officials say they believe Santa is alive in the hearts and minds of people in Minnesota and throughout the world.

To track Santa yourself, go to noradsanta.org, or call 1-877-HI NORAD.

Sharon Rolenc, Public News Service - MN