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Pentagon Tracks 'Santa's Progress'


President Bush is spending Christmas Eve at the Camp David presidential retreat this year and most of the U.S. government has been given the day off. But one special branch of the Defense Department has been working overtime this holiday season so children around the world can follow one of the most endearing Christmas legends of all time. As VOA's Kyle King reports from Washington, Santa Claus is being tracked on radar.

For more than 15 centuries, the legend of Santa Claus has fascinated children the world over. And the Internet has now made it easier than ever to follow the progress of the jolly old man as he takes off from the North Pole on Christmas Eve and makes his rounds, delivering gifts to boys and girls.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, which normally uses its sophisticated radars to track missiles, has been helping to track Santa's progress every year since 1955. Now, it has has one of the most popular seasonal Web sites on the Internet, NORADSANTA.ORG.

A simple click on any region of the map gives a quick update on what is described as "Santa's progress," complete with geographical information about the places he visits.

Millions of Internet users have been logging onto the Web site to see the special program, which is made possible through private donations and Defense Department volunteers.

Updates to the site are made every five minutes and the so-called "NORAD Tracks Santa" program has German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese and English links.

As the Web site points out, the legendary trip is getting longer every year because of a world population that is now grown to more than 6.5 billion people. And millions of them will be tracking Santa's progress again this year.

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