With presents to wrap, cookies to bake, Christmas movies to watch...you may not have even thought about how a partial government shutdown would affect the annual NORAD Santa Tracker. 

It didn't immediately strike me that the North American Aerospace Defense Command that's tracked Santa's global Christmas Eve route for over six decades is actually a federal agency.  Luckily, the military personnel who've taken on the fun holiday task of checking in with Santa's travels on December 24 announced via Twitter that they will continue the tradition with the help of 1,500 volunteers despite the shut down.

My flight to spend the holidays with my family in Ohio is currently delayed, so I popped in to see where Santa's sleigh is at.  As of 12:30 p.m. MT on December 24, Santa's already delivered more than 2.5 billion gifts in the eastern hemisphere and is current en route to Minsk, Belarus. If you'd like to see his approach to the Treasure Valley click HERE to watch his travels live on NORAD's Santa Tracker.

According to CNN, NORAD's tradition of tracking Santa has an interesting history.  It all started in 1955 when Sears created a phone line where kids could call and check in with the man in red. Unfortunately when the print ad went out there was a typo and kids started calling an agency known as the Continental Air Defense Command instead.

After he caught on to what was going on Colonel Harry Shoup instructed his staff to stay on the phone with the kids calling Santa and update them on how close Santa's sleigh was to their hometowns. When NORAD was created in 1958, they picked up the tradition and have dedicated themselves to bringing the fun holiday adventure to life every year.

The addition of the web based, virtual 3D map of Santa's travels is certainly different form the first incarnations of the Santa Tracker, but they've kept the phone line to check in with Santa's progress open at 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-336-6723.)  If you call that number, you never know who may pick up to give you an update on Santa's ETA to the Treasure Valley! While President Obama was in office, First Lady Michelle Obama volunteered to answer calls for years and last year, President Trump and First Lady Melania took part in the tradition as well.

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