The government may have partially shut down, but the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is still tracking Santa Claus' journey across the globe. NORAD will be fielding calls throughout the night and day from children, trying to pinpoint exactly where Santa is and when he will make his long awaited arrival.
NORAD has been following Santa for decades with the help of nearly 1,500 military personnel and volunteers. In the past, some of Santa's helpers included former first lady Michelle Obama, who answered calls for more than six years running. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump assisted NORAD during the 2017 and current holiday seasons, as she noted on Twitter on Christmas Eve:
At one point, the president told a seven year old that believing in Santa at that age is "marginal." He asked the boy, named Coleman, if he's still a believer in Santa. After listening, Mr. Trump said, "Because at 7, it's marginal, right?" He listened again and chuckled before saying, "Well, you just enjoy yourself."
Maj. Andrew Hennessey of the Canadian military said NORAD began tracking Santa 63 years ago and started as an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper.
"It was a Sears ad that misprinted a phone number that was meant to be calling Santa directly, and it ended up calling our operations director at the time. He took a call from the child, thought it was a prank and kind of figured out what was going on. Quickly after that, and 'NORAD Tracks Santa' continues that tradition today."
As of Monday afternoon, Santa was spotted traveling over Saudi Arabia, Hennessey said.
"Generally, he starts around the international dateline, goes to New Zealand, Australia, Asia pacific, Europe and finally into North America, where we will escort him with NORAD fighter jets in Canada and the United States. We're locked right onto him with our radars in the systems we use every day to defend North America."
For those looking for live updates on Santa's journey, NORAD offers live updates by phone, Facebook, Twitter and email. If you call 877-HI-NORAD, someone will give you an update.