LIMA — Allen County will provide a way to track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and to play holiday games between now and the end of December.
Allen County EMA Director Russ Decker unveiled Thursday during a presentation to the Allen County commissioners of a link on the Allen County Office of Homeland Security website to track Kris Kringle as he delivers presents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“We are making available on our website for the rest of the month a link to the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Santa trackings system and we wanted everyone to know they could go online and watch his flight on Christmas Eve,” Decker said. “This is a joint operation between the U.S. and the Canadian governments for 50-plus years.”
He explained NORAD began offering its tracking of Santa when a Sears advertisement in a Colorado Sprngs, Colo. newspaper printed the telephone number of the commander of Continential Air Defense Command Center, the predecessor of NORAD, as the way to contact Santa’s workshop.
Col. Harry Shoup, who was on duty the night of Dec. 24, 1955, told his staff to give all children that called a “current location” for Santa Claus. This started an annual tradition which continued in 1958 when the agency became known as NORAD.
Today, NORAD relies on volunteers to handle more than 40 calls per hour, totaling more than 70,000 telephone calls from 200 countries and more than 12,000 emails. NORAD Tracks Santa program, which started Dec. 30, 2011, has 101,000 Twitter followers and the Facebook page has more than 1 million fans.
The website offers interactive holiday games and Christmas music performed by the U.S. Air Force Band.
The website also has attracted some criticism since Santa’s sleigh is flanked by fighter jets.
The link is available at www.allen-ema.com.