US military prepare to field 125,000 calls from children tracking Santa's flight

First lady Michelle Obama will also be answering a few calls

US military prepare to field 125,000 calls from children tracking Santa's flight

Hussein Malla / AP

The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) has been preparing for weeks to tackle a big one-day mission. Miles of wire, dozens of computers and more than 150 telephone lines are in place to allow the American military to keep kids up to date with Santa's sleigh ride around the world.

Volunteers will be answering calls from an estimated 125,000 children around the world who want to know about Santa's exact whereabouts.

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The call centre sits in a training building and will be staffed for 23 hours from Christmas Eve.

The volunteers will also share Santa's location on its website, and on Facebook and Twitter. Last year, the posts got 1.6 million Facebook likes.

NORAD has been tracking Santa's location for 60 years, and the programme is underwritten by contractors who pay for the equipment.

First lady Michelle Obama will also have some calls forwarded to her on Christmas Eve.

NORAD's Stacey Knott, who has organised the event for three years, said: "We get a lot of calls from Europe, Australia and New Zealand."

Volunteers are also available to handle the foreign-language inquiries.

NORAD's normal job is to defend the skies and monitor sea approaches for both the US and Canada.

Its control room is based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

The tracking service has been running since 1955 when a child accidently called NORAD and asked to speak to Santa.
Not wanting to disappoint the young caller, a staff member checked the radar to work out Santa's exact location for the child.

The employee then told his colleagues to do the same, if anyone else called about Santa.