The program, which began after a misprinted ad in a local paper in 1955, has volunteers and NORAD staff answering queries on the location of Santa Claus as he circles the globe delivering presents on Dec 24.
More than 1,250 volunteers in the 23-hour NORAD Tracks Santa operations center answered over 114,000 calls this year from children looking for Santa Claus (up over 12,000 from 2011). Volunteers ranged from Peterson AFB family members volunteering their time to First Lady Michelle Obama, who for the third year, answered NORAD Tracks Santa calls from Hawaii. They also received nearly 11,000 emails, which is also an increase from last year’s count.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, had 22.3 million unique visitors access the site, up nearly 19%, from 235 countries and territories across the globe during the month of December, while fans of the NORAD Tracks Santa Facebook page grew to over 1.2 million followers. More than 129,000 people also followed Santa’s progress on Twitter, an increase of nearly 28% the number from the previous year. The NORAD Tracks Santa site, featuring Bing and Cesium 3D maps and other interactive games, also offered photos, videos and fun facts about Santa and his reindeer throughout the month of December.
Parents and children were able to countdown the days until Santa’s take off on their smart phones and track his progress through a number of free apps in the Apple Store, Google Play and Windows Marketplace. These apps received more than 1.5 million downloads.
“This year, 25 million people around the world followed Santa’s journey in real-time on the web, on their mobile devices, by e-mail and by phone. This combination of new and old technologies is essential to helping NORAD keep up with the incredible demand for Santa tracking that grows each year. It’s a big job, and we can’t do it alone, but the holidays have always been a time for bringing people together,” said Capt Jeff Davis, Director of Public Affairs for NORAD. “With the help of our industry partners and friends in Canada, the tradition that started as a mistake has lived on again this year. 365 days a year the men and women of NORAD work hard to provide aerospace security for North America, and it is our honor for one day to track Santa for millions of children around the world.”