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NORAD to track Santa and USPS to deliver packages despite partial shutdown

North American Aerospace Defense Command tweeted that it was prepared to track Santa's flight across the globe as it had done for more than six decades.

Not even a government shutdown can cancel Christmas for kids eagerly tracking his progress around the world and awaiting presents in the mail.

As thousands of federal employees were likely to be sent home amid the gridlock in Washington after a partial shutdown on Saturday morning and even more were expected to work without pay, several agencies assured children and adults alike that Christmas was still coming.

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tweeted on Friday that it is prepared to track Santa's flight across the globe as it has done for more than six decades.

"Military personnel who conduct NORAD Tracks Santa are supported by approximately 1,500 volunteers who make the program possible each and every year," the tweet read.

First lady Melania Trump, who arrived at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday, said she would still participate in the annual tradition of calling in to NORAD on Christmas Eve.

Presents are also still on their way to children and families across the nation, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

In a tweet on Saturday, the postal service said it also would not be impacted by the government shutdown.

"All Post Offices will remain open for business. Because we are an independent entity that is funded through the sale of our products & services, and not by tax dollars, our services will not be impacted by a gov't shutdown," the service tweeted.

And for those visiting Washington over the holiday, a trip to the Smithsonian's 19 museums would still be possible until Jan.1, 2019.

In a tweet, the Smithsonian said it would use prior year funding to remain open. It added that it is always closed on Christmas Day.

"In the event of a #GovernmentShutdown, our museums, research centers and the National Zoo will be OPEN through Jan. 1," it tweeted Friday.

Not everyone will be unscathed by the chaos in Congress, however. More than 420,000 federal employees will be required to work without pay under the partial shutdown, according to a fact sheet compiled by Senate Democrats.

TSA employees, correctional officers, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, Border Patrol officers, Coast Guard employees, Forest Service firefighters and Weather Service forecasters are all expected to continue working without pay. Approximately 380,000 federal employees will be sent home, according to the fact sheet.

In some cases, states are stepping in to keep destinations open through the holidays.

Tourists visiting New York City will still be able to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said the state would intervene to keep the entities open.

"We will not allow President Trump's repugnant symbol of division close the true representations of who we are as a state and a nation," Cuomo said.

At Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, nonprofit organizations are teaming up to keep the visitor center open at the government-run USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial itself is closed until March for repairs to the loading dock, but visitors are still being taken on a narrated harbor tour of Battleship Row and the surrounding area.

Navy sailors operating the tour boats aren't affected by the shutdown.

Image: Charles D. Luckey
In this Dec. 24, 2014, file photo, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Charles D. Luckey joins volunteers taking phone calls from children around the world asking where Santa is during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.Brennan Linsley / AP, file

In Washington, D.C., park roads, lookouts, trails, open-air memorials such as the National Mall will "generally remain accessible to visitors," but no National Park Service visitor facilities or services will be available, a spokesperson said in a statement. Those services include restrooms, visitors centers, information kiosks and ranger talks, according to the statement. National Park Service websites and social media will not be updated during the shutdown.

Other states are also working to keep their national parks and landmarks available to the public.

Utah's state government is paying to staff the visitor centers at Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks, and Arizona is ponying up to keep trails, shuttles and restrooms open at the Grand Canyon.

"Many travelers have planned their visit for months in advance and have traveled from all over the world to be here," said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican. "We want them to return home with memories of magnificent vistas and welcoming people, not locked doors."

At Acadia National Park in Maine, austerity measures include closing some bathrooms, curbing trash collection and cutting back on snowplowing. A lack of plowing could also hinder access to Crater Lake in Oregon, Mount Rainier in Washington and other parks normally inundated with snow this time of year.

Hotels, restaurants, stores and gas stations at Yosemite National Park in California remain open and seem unaffected by the shutdown, which has canceled some programs, closed visitor centers and left campgrounds unstaffed.

"It's basically free to get in the park and people are coming and going as they please," said Jade Lezon, a cashier at the El Portal Market, near an entrance to the park. "It looks like summer today. Perfect weather for a government shutdown."