COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The people who monitor air and space threats against the U.S. and Canada will be on special alert later today, looking for the target they only get to track once a year.
It's a Christmas mission that started nearly 60 years ago to keep children informed of Santa's worldwide journey. And the annual aerial surveillance attracts millions through phone calls, emails and the Internet.
NORAD's holiday tradition can by traced to 1955, when a Colorado Springs newspaper printed a Sears ad telling children of a phone number to talk to Santa. The number was one digit off, and the first child to get through reached the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor.
Col. Harry W. Shoup answered and played along, giving birth to a tradition which continues with volunteers to this day.
Shoup died in March of this year.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)