The coronavirus isn’t going to keep Santa Claus from coming to town.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, which tracks everything in the skies of the United States and Canada, is tracking Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer for its 65th year on Christmas Eve.
Families can follow the journey of Old Saint Nicholas on NORAD’s website as he travels and delivers gifts to children across the world.
The holiday tradition began with one innocuous misplaced call.
In December 1955, Col. Harry Shoup was working his shift at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, a predecessor to NORAD, when he answered the phone in his office.
After a brief delay, a child asked Shoup if he was the big man himself. Shoup initially thought someone from his office was playing a prank, but he decided to play along when the little girl asked her question again.
The tradition of children across the globe calling NORAD and asking for Santa’s whereabouts was thus born.
Hundreds of volunteers normally take calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline on Christmas Eve to provide updates on Santa’s location, according to NORAD. This year, only a small number of people will be answering the phone, to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the organization said.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of NORAD, told Kerry Sanders on the “TODAY” show Thursday that despite the changes, the pandemic wasn’t going to prevent Santa from spreading Christmas joy.
“I’m 100 percent convinced that Santa is more than prepared to make this trip through a coronavirus environment,” VanHerck said. “He’s been doing this for many, many years as you know, through challenges all around the globe, so I’m confident Santa is going to make it.”
“Believe in it, keep believing,” he said.