NORAD Santa Tracker 2012 Goes Online as Millions Begin Tracking Santa Clause

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(Photo: Reuters/Gary Hershorn)Santa Claus rides on his sleigh down Central Park West in New York November 22, 2012.

The Norad Santa tracker will operate its annual goodwill mission this year, as hoards of volunteers don their Santa Claus hats and take to their phones lines to provide kids around the world with updates about where Santa is in the world.

The Santa trackers will start taking calls early on Monday via the number 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723). The operators will be able to tell children when Santa is due to arrive at their house.

Parents and kids can also find updates online through the website and also on Facebook through as well as Twitter

Volunteers this year will be based at the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Cool.

Norad is a U.S.-Canadian command given the responsibility of monitoring and protecting the skies over the two North American nations.

The Norad Santa tracker has been going for nearly 50 years, and was first established via a typo in a newspaper advertisement in 1955. The advertisement was run in a Colorado Springs newspaper and invited children to call Santa Claus. However, it accidentally listed Norad (at the time known as the Continental Air Defense Command) as the phone number.

As children began calling to speak to Santa, Conrad employees, not wanting to disappoint eager children, played along. This led to word spreading that Conrad was able to tell kids where Santa was.

That humorous error led to the Norad Santa Tracker, which now posts updates as to Santa's position on radio, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as now also having a smartphone app.

It has been reported by The Associated Press that in 2011 the Norad Santa Tracker volunteers answered nearly 102,000 phone calls, as well as 7,700 emails from children. The Norad Tracks Santa website also attracted 18.9 million unique visitors across 220 countries last December.

As social media networks continue to became more central to people's lives in modern times, the Norad Santa Tracker is also attracting an increasing presence on Facebook and Twitter, with more than 1.1 million Likes and 110,000 Followers respectively - and that's even before Santa Claus got on his sleigh this year.