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BREAKING NEWS: Santa's sleigh spotted

Santa Claus is on his way.

Santa and his flying reindeer-powered sleigh took off from the North Pole earlier today, soaring into the arctic sky, launching his cross-world excursion, officials at NORAD have confirmed.

NORAD's radar is tracking Rudolph's bright red nose, satellite imagery is providing minute-by-minute coverage of Santa's location as he makes his magical Christmas Eve journey, delivering gifts to the children of the world.

Santa Cams – high-tech, digital cameras pre-positioned around the globe – are also capturing Santa's journey.

The results are being posted throughout the day on NORAD's Santa Tracker website, www.noradsanta.org, a nerve centre of information.

In 2011, you'll be able to follow Santa on your mobile phone using google maps for mobile (yes, there's an app).

You can also follow Santa's journey on Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps, and Google Earth.

NORAD is a U.S./Canadian military organization that monitors North American aerospace.

The tradition of tracking Santa began in 1955 when children began calling CONAD, the predecessor to NORAD, hoping to speak with Santa Claus.

A misprint in a department store advertisement was responsible for the mix-up; children dialing Santa's hotline were mistakenly put through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief instead. The kids were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born, thanks to the late Col. Harry Shoup, who passed away in 2009.

It's still possible to call NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Centre, which goes live at 4 a.m. MST Dec. 24. Call 877-446-6723 to talk to a NORAD staff member who will be able to tell you Santa's exact location.

Or email noradtrackssanta@gmail.com on Dec. 24 to receive a email with his last known location.

While the tradition of tracking Santa began by accident, NORAD continues to track Santa – they have the technology to do it, and the employees love it.

He usually starts at the international date line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west, visiting the South Pacific first, before moving on to New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Asia, and then to Africa, Western Europe, Canada and the United States, Mexico, Central and South America.

It's said Santa visits all homes where children who believe in him live, making him truly an international ambassador of peace and goodwill.

He's thought to be at least 16 centuries old, stands about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 260 pounds, and fighter-aircraft photos show he has big belly, rosy cheeks and a flowing, white beard. His ability to get down chimneys remains unexplained.

It's a tradition for children put out snacks for Santa before they go to bed, often leaving carrots for the reindeer, too.


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