Despite a partial government shut down, hundreds of volunteers dressed in Christmas hats and military uniforms will take calls on Monday from children around the world who want to know when Santa will be landing. 

On Friday in a Twitter post, the North American Aerospace Defense Command announced that the NORAD Santa tracker was still on. “In the event of a government shutdown, NORAD will continue with its 63-year tradition of NORAD Tracks Santa on Dec. 24. Military personnel who conduct NORAD Tracks Santa are supported by approximately 1,500 volunteers who make the program possible each and every year,” it wrote as the post’s caption.

This Christmas children around the world will still be able to use the NORAD Santa tracker because it is run by volunteers at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado and it is funded by the Department of Defense’s budget that was approved earlier this year. 

For 63 years, the organization has taken on the task of tracking Santa Claus’s sleigh and nine reindeer as they go through every child’s house, besides there everyday task of detecting aerospace activity. 

This all began after Col. Harry Shoup received a phone call in 1955 from a child who wanted to speak to Santa Claus. A Colorado Springs newspaper had apparently run an ad inviting kids to call Santa mistakenly under the hotline number. Shoup discovered what had happened, but continued to go along with it, which has now blossomed into a real operation that attracts thousands of children’s calls every year. 

Last year, NORAD Tracks Santa received almost 126,000 phone calls and 18 million website hits. Right now the organization has over 1.8 million followers on Facebook and almost 180,000 on Twitter.

Every year it has taken over 160 phones to handle all the calls that pour in. New volunteers that come into the operation receive a playbook that instructs them how to answer questions that kids may ask. Meanwhile big screens on the walls show Santa’s progress around the globe as U.S. and Canadian officers do live TV interviews from the phone rooms.

In 2012, a child from Newtown, Connecticut, asked Santa if he could bring an extra toy for families who lost their children in the mass shooting that took place that year at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“If I can get ahold of him, I’ll try to get the message to him,” volunteer, Sara Berghoff replied. 

Today, NORAD’s commander, Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy will participate in answering phones. “This is my first NORAD Tracks Santa,” O’Shaughnessy, who took command in May said. “I’m really excited.”

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