How to Track Santa Claus — with a Mask On! — as He Delivers Presents on Christmas

Santa Claus is coming to town!

As families across the globe settle in for a long winter's nap, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is tracking Santa's sleigh and his nine reindeer (Rudolph included) on Thursday evening.

Eager children awaiting Santa's arrival can keep tabs on him — including his last stop, where he's off to next and even how many gifts he's delivered — as he makes his annual journey. And this year he will be wearing a mask amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

NORAD, an organization that watches the skies over the United States and Canada, operates from it's Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is operating their highly beloved Santa tracker for its 65th year in a row.

Families can follow the journey of Old Saint Nick as he delivers gifts to children across the world in various ways, including on NORAD's website, on Twitter, via a smartphone app or with a phone call to the toll-free line, 1-877-HI-NORAD.

According to NORAD's website, the beloved Christmas tradition began in 1955 when a local newspaper ad misprinted Santa's phone number and instead gave out the direct line to Air Force Col. Harry Shoup at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs.

Shoup played the part as best he could before enlisting a duty officer to help answer the children's questions throughout the night. Then, when NORAD was formed three years later to help protect the airspace over North America, they continued the holiday tradition of tracking Father Christmas.

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Hundreds of volunteers normally take calls on the NORAD Santa tracking hotline on Christmas Eve, but this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, only a small group of people will be answering the call to provide updates on Santa’s location in an effort to limit the spread of the respiratory illness, per the organization.

Callers who cannot reach one of those volunteers will instead receive a recorded update on Santa's current location.

And for those children alarmed about letting Santa into their homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic — have no fear!

Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci assured kids around the world that St. Nick is "good to go" this holiday season as the nation's top infectious disease specialist said he visited Santa himself to give him the COVID-19 vaccine.

After receiving questions from kids asking if Santa would still be making his rounds this year, Fauci revealed on CNN's The ABCs of COVID-19 special that he "took care" of Santa and that kids should have "nothing to worry about" this Christmas.

"I have to say I took care of that for you because I was worried that you’d all be upset," Fauci said on Saturday. "So what I did a little while ago, I took a trip up there to the North Pole, I went there and I vaccinated Santa Claus myself."

"I measured his level of immunity, and he is good to go," Fauci continued. "He can come down the chimney, he can leave the presents… you have nothing to worry about. Santa Claus is good to go."

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