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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Right now, all across the world, children everywhere are preparing for Santa’s magical ride from coast to coast in anticipation of getting a special gift or two from the big guy. Children of today have it a lot better than years ago in terms of knowing just where or when Santa may be in their neck of the woods - and that is all thanks to the folks at NORAD and Google.

How it all began

Sometimes things go wrong and they lead to something great.

Over the course of time, great "mistakes" have given the world the microwave, Play-Doh, Super Glue, Teflon, the toy The Slinky, and the most famous of all - Alexander Fleming's discovery of the antibiotic penicillin.

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It is also the exact case when it comes to NORAD's Santa Tracker.

According to Newsweek, NORAD began tracking Santa in 1955 after an advertisement encouraging kids to call Santa accidentally listed the number for the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) - and not Santa!

At the time, Colonel Harry Shoup answered a call from a little girl who was calling to talk to Santa [VIDEO]. While Shoup was not sure how or why the call was coming to him on such a private phone line, he was quick on his feet and told the child he would leave a message for Santa.

When calls continued to pour in, Colonel Shoup kept assuring the children that he would gladly pass on the message to Santa, thus a legend, and a tradition was born! It would have been very easy for Shoup to hang up or tell the children who called that this number was given out by mistake, however, by telling the children he would pass along their messages to the North Pole and Santa himself, Shoup deserves to be called the creator of Santa Tracker.

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Other options

For those children who don’t have a way to track Santa online, you have another option. You or a parent or guardian can call his command center directly for live updates!

The NORAD Santa tracker hotline opens on December 24 at 4:00 a.m. MST and will run until midnight. That number is 1-877-HI-NORAD. You will be connected to a live chat with a NORAD operator who can answer all of your Santa questions.

Kiddos can also track Santa’s whereabouts through Google’s Santa tracker. Launched in 2004, Google will begin tracking Santa on December 24 at 5 a.m. EST. Just like NORAD, Google’s version of Santa tracker offers kids a variety of online games, ways to track the big guy and more.

To join in on all the fun, just head to noradsanta.org or santatracker.google.com for more information. Merry Christmas everyone!