SEATTLE - If you missed the lunar eclipse on Monday night, there's another good reason to gaze up into the sky this week - particularly on Friday night.
Anyone in Washington who says they don't believe in Santa Claus might want to check first with the North American Aerospace Defense Command. NORAD is responsible for keeping the airspace safe in North America. Every Christmas Eve, its radar spots Santa, racing around the world and dropping off tons of gifts. So how does he get all that work done in just one night? Lt. Stacey Knott works with NORAD.
"We've asked him about that. Santa is in a different type of time plane, and so the time is a little different for him. That's how he's able to get all around the world in just that little bit of time."
According to Lt. Knott, Santa usually begins his rounds in the Eastern hemisphere. When he arrives in North America, NORAD's fighter jets intercept him to ensure a safe journey. Preparations are already in place for this year's intercept, she says.
"We are going up and meeting him with our fighter aircraft to make sure that he travels safely across our country, and then kind-of tipping the wings to him, to say 'hello' from our jets."
Lt. Knott says she's seen the sleigh on radar; but has she seen Santa in person?
"I haven't! I'm always making sure I'm in bed and asleep so I'll get my presents. So, I haven't seen him, but I thought one time that I heard some jingling and maybe some little reindeer hooves on the roof."
She says every year, more than 1,200 uniformed personnel and civilians volunteer their time to answer thousands of phone calls and emails that pour in from around the world on Christmas Eve.
Based on flight data in more than 50 years of tracking, NORAD officials say they believe that Santa is alive in the hearts and minds of people in Washington, and around the world. To track Santa yourself, go online to www.NORADSanta.org
or call 877-HI NORAD.