NORAD has been tracking Santa's Christmas Eve journey for the past 63 years.
It would have been hard for Shoup to imagine his kind gesture for this one little girl would lead to the 1500-strong team of civilian and military volunteers - now known as NORAD Tracks Santa - who answer the phones for tens of thousands of kids today.
Each year, NORAD's Tracks Santa website (can be accessed here) gets almost 9 million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world.
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The hundreds of volunteers will be working on Christmas Eve to track Santa Claus and to answer children's calls.
In 1955, when Colorado-based Sears Roebuck & Co. misprinted a telephone number in an advertisement for kids wishing to talk to Santa, they sent dozens of children calling the Continental Air Defense Command center instead.
NORAD is normally responsible for monitoring any aerospace or marine threat - but every Christmas season, it focuses on one figure who is anything but a threat: Santa Claus. Each year Koch and her army of volunteer elves answer nearly 25,000 letters to Santa. The tradition dates back to the 50s when children were able to phone the centre to check on Santa's progress.
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The 3-D, interactive website at www.noradsanta.org showed Santa on his delivery route, allowing users to click and learn more about the various cities along the way.
In the southwest corner of IN is a little town called Santa Claus. According to NORAD, more than 1,400 volunteers will answer the phones around the clock. They are led by the chief elf, 87-year-old Pat Koch, who is carrying on the legacy of her father, Jim, who called himself "the real Santa Claus".
NORAD's commander, Air Force Gen. Terrence J.
"I assume this committee can count on your commitment to continue that venerable tradition", Arkansas Republican Sen. It can also be used to see how Santa's Christmas preparations are going so far or where he is in the North Pole before December 25.
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