PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (CBS4/CBS13)  — Santa and his reindeer are well on their way across the globe, delivering presents to boys and girls.

Every year since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command Center (NORAD) in Colorado Springs, tracks Santa’s journey beginning Christmas Eve morning.

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“We’re basically there to make sure that he has a safe passage around the world,” explained Brigadier General William Radiff with NORAD.

What began as an accident 65 years ago when a kid called NORAD asking to talk to Santa, has now become a holiday tradition. Using radar and satellites, they track Santa’s Christmas Eve flight for families.

“Because of Rudolph’s red nose, and the heat signature in his nose, the satellites are able to pick that up and track him,” General Radiff said.

Normally NORAD has 1,500 volunteers answering calls about Santa’s whereabouts. However, because of the pandemic, fewer volunteers are in the call center. Families may get a live person if they call, but instead are encouraged to hop online, or on an app to watch the journey unfold.

“And when he comes over to North America we also send some fighter jets in order to escort him,” General Radiff said.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom cleared Santa and his reindeer to enter the state on Christmas Eve. Newsom said state veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones approved a 24-hour permit for reindeer.

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General Radiff is a pilot himself and has some advice for excited kids.

“I’ve been able to actually escort Santa five different times. So I do know that Santa only comes to homes of boys and girls who are sleeping,” he explained. “So you have to make sure you get to bed at an early time so that when Santa comes by, he doesn’t have to skip over your house.”

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You can track Santa at or follow NORAD on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for updates.