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NORAD tracks Santa as he zips around the world

Santa Claus is on his way around the world, at least according to a U.S. military command.

In what is an annual tradition, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a U.S.-Canadian operation based in Colorado Springs, is tracking the jolly red-robed globe trotter as he zips around the world in his sled with his trusty reindeer crew, and occasionally an escort of two fighter jets.

Click here to see where Santa is now.

The origins of tracking Santa date back to 1955 when a local ad to speak directly with Santa printed the wrong phone number — instead directing children to a military defense operations center.

Tracking Santa grew from there after officers on duty actually fielded the kids questions.

These days parents and children can visit NORAD’s website and pinpoint his whereabouts with the help of the popular Santa Tracker program.

Those eager for Santa’s take-off can also count down the hours on the track Santa clock on the website.

Last year the website attracted more than 22 million visitors.

NORAD says it can keep up with Santa’s swift pace by using satellites and an “infrared sensor to detect heat signatures from Rudolph’s nose,” as the lead reindeer helps pull Santa’s sleigh across the sky.

This year, NORAD said it was sending animated warplanes alongside the sleigh, a move that drew criticism from some child advocates who said children might worry if they believed Santa was vulnerable to attack.

NORAD says it began depicting jets following the sleigh in the 1960s and the planes would only be deployed to help Santa enter North American airspace.