By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. –The North American Aerospace Defense Command’s NORAD Tracks Santa program had a record year for 2009 culminating in the early morning hours of Christmas day.
The program, which began in 1955 because of a misprinted phone number in a department store advertisement, shows no sign of stopping. This year, the tradition called for a 25-hour operations center where more than 1,200 volunteers from the military and the Colorado Springs community answered more than 74,000 phone calls and 3,500 emails from people around the world asking the location of Santa.
More than 13 million visitors from 231 countries also tracked Santa on the Web site at www.noradsanta.org. The site, which featured both an interactive map and the Google Earth map, offered photos, videos and family-friendly games for visitors throughout the month of December.
In addition to the phone calls and Web site, NORAD Tracks Santa moved into the social arena in 2009. The program had approximately 27,440 twitter followers Dec. 25 and the NTS Facebook fan page continues to grow with more than 410,700 fans. Visitor comments on the Facebook fan page ranged from simple heartfelt “Thank you’s,” to Santa sightings, songs, and charming stories of families brought together to share the Christmas spirit. Many families make NORAD Tracks Santa an annual event.
“NORAD is honored to be part of so many peoples’ holiday traditions,” said Jamie Graybeal, director of NORAD Public Affairs. “Throughout the year our men and women are working hard to provide aerospace security for North America, but for this one night annually, we are able to bring the magic of Christmas to children young and old around the world. Thank you to our many volunteers and our corporate sponsors for making this program possible.”