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Santa's sleigh under surveillance

Around-the-clock crews monitoring the skies

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: This evening, kids all over the world will look to the sky for signs of Santa. For the past 50 years, the U.S. military has been involved with surveillance out of the North Pole. NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, uses its high-tech satellites to track Saint Nick. And now, one company has found a way to hitch a ride. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports.


Jeff Tyler: Just about every mall has a Santa and a very patient photographer. What distinguishes this mall is the Santa Tracking Station, from interactive marketing firm The Becker Group. The exhibit teaches about the satellites and technology used by NORAD to follow Saint Nick.

Eddie Newquist designed the display to appeal to the hordes of Santa seekers that contact NORAD each year.

Eddie Newquist: Hundreds of thousands of phone calls. Millions of web hits from all over the world. People wanting to find out, where's Santa, and when is he going to get to my house?

Mickey Marraffino with Macerich retail centers says the exhibit gives their Santa a competitive edge:

Mickey Marraffino: Santa photo sales are increasing this year as much as 44 percent over last year's sales.

For between $14 and $48, you can get a photo of the kids with Santa that forever says:

Elise: Merry Christmas.

Ditto for me. Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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