Norad Santa tracker: Father Christmas shown wearing a face mask

This is the 65th year that Norad has tracked Santa Claus on his Christmas 'journey' to deliver gifts around the globe

This Dec. 24, 2019 photo provided by The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) the NORAD tracking Santa Operations Center on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.  This is the 65th year for the U.S.-Canadian operation that has tracked the jolly old man since a child mistakenly called the base asking to speak to Santa.   (Tech. Sgt. Jeff Fitzmorris/NORAD via AP)

A six-decade tradition of tracking the whereabouts of Santa on Christmas Day was slightly altered due to the pandemic.

On December 25, those paying attention to North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) Santa tracker may have noticed that Father Christmas was taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Those with a keen eye to detail may have noticed that for the first time, Santa Claus was shown wearing a face mask in the Norad computer simulation that has become a staple of the holiday season. It showed Santa moving at a break-neck pace and delivering gifts all around the world.

Norad is not alone in protecting Santa from Covid-19. It's rival simulation, Google's Santa tracker, also gave Santa a face mask out of an abundance of caution, as his reindeer guide him from city to city and country to country.

And even though St Nick has just wrapped up his journey, it was announced he was able to deliver 7,623,695,221 presents and gifts this year.

How did the Norad Santa tracker begin? 

Back in 1955, a local newspaper advert informed children they could call Santa directly but the contact number listed was misprinted. Instead of dialling Father Christmas, a young girl was instead connected to Colonel Harry Shoup, the duty commander at Norad’s predecessor that Christmas.

Rather than correcting the child, he played along – and then Col Shoup assigned a duty officer to answer the calls and update other children on the progress of Santa, sparking the tradition.

Today, you can still call Norad for updates from one of more than 1,500 volunteers on 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).

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