Alexis joins the party for tracking St. Nick


Associated Press

DENVER

Amazon’s computerized know-it-all is the latest technology to enlist in NORAD Tracks Santa, the military-run program that fields phone calls and emails from children around the world eager to ask when Santa will arrive.

Now entering its 62nd year, NORAD Tracks Santa will go live today, with about 1,500 volunteers answering calls and emails at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. Updates will be posted on social media and at noradsanta.org.

And if you have Amazon’s voice-activated Echo device, you can ask Alexa once you enable the function.

Technology has always been at the heart of NORAD Tracks Santa, which got its start in 1955 with an old-school glitch.

An advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper that year invited kids to call Santa, but it mistakenly listed the number for the hotline at the U.S. Continental Air Defense Command. CONAD, as it was called, had the job of monitoring a vast radar network from a combat operations center in Colorado Springs.

It’s not clear what day the first call came in, but by Friday, Dec. 23 of that first year, the AP reported that CONAD was tracking Santa.

Soon TV and radio stations began broadcasting Christmas Eve bulletins from CONAD and NORAD. And by the 1980s, NORAD was soliciting phone calls from children. (The number is now 877-Hi NORAD or 877-446-6723.)

NORAD added its Santa-tracking website in 1997. It went on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in 2008. Mobile apps came in 2011, Instagram in 2016.

And this year, Alexa joins the party.

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