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November 19, 2017

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Santa’s sleigh being watched over by U.S. military radar


Steve Marcus

Jaheem Brown, 10, poses with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, elf Meghan Sellers and Santa Claus during a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas Tuesday, December 6, 2011.

Santa's Las Vegas photo album

Santa talks with Lauren Nowak, 4, during the Holiday Spectacular at the Springs Preserve, Sunday, December 11, 2011. The Holiday Spectacular will continue on Saturday, Dec. 17 and run through Friday, Dec. 23.  . Launch slideshow »

Santa Claus and his reindeer are airborne and on their way to Las Vegas, the U.S. military has confirmed.

Santa was spotted in Romania around 1:30 p.m. and is continuing to work his way west across Europe on his way to the United States, according to NORAD's Santa tracker.

According to NORAD's website, the organization, which usually tracks activities in the sky for military purposes, has deployed an array of high-tech equipment to follow Santa as he circumnavigates the globe.

Radar detects Santa’s departure from the North Pole and then geo-synchronous satellites with high-tech sensors are able to pick up the infrared signature from Rudolph’s bright red nose to continue tracking the sleigh.

The Santa cam network is capturing images and video from his stops all around the world.

Upon reaching North America, Santa will be greeted with a contingent of fighter jets from Canada and the United States that will accompany him for part of his journey.

NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command, have been tracking Santa’s flight since 1955 after a Sears Roebuck & Co. ad for children to call Santa accidentally included the number to the command’s operations hotline.

As children called in, the commander checked the radar to provide updates on Santa’s location and the tradition was born.

Volunteers at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado were fielding 4,000 calls an hour Saturday morning, on pace to break a record. Also, Santa's NORAD Facebook page exceeded 840,000 "likes" by midmorning. Last year, Santa had 716,000 "likes."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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