Santa is airborne and anxious young eyes are scanning the sky, watching for the blink of a red Rudolph nose. For kids and parents wanting to track the path of the rotund, red-suited man across the sky, the North American Aerospace Defense Command is on the job, through its website
, Twitter, and even a smartphone app called NORAD Tracks Santa.
With a “Last Seen” category and a running — very quickly running — tally of gifts delivered, the NORAD site follows the happy gift-giver around the globe, usually starting in the South Pacific, moving through New Zealand and Australia before flying toward Japan and Asia, according to The Associated Press
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In 2012, 114,000 phone calls were made to the NORAD organization about Santa, the AP said. More than 22 million unique visitors accessed the website and its Facebook page has more than 1.3 million followers.
NORAD Tracks Santa began by what many would call a happy accident. In 1955, a newspaper ad listed a hot line number to call Santa, only it got the number wrong. Calls came in to the organization that today is NORAD, and kids were so unhappy not to be getting Santa that commanders there told them they knew where Santa was, the AP said.
NORAD is a joint U.S.-Canadian venture at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.
When kids call to chat with the volunteers who answer the phones, they ask a unique blend of questions, the AP said. Many want to know if they’re on the naughty or nice list, and other questions include “How much to adopt one of Santa’s reindeer?” and “Can you put my brother on the naughty list?”
This year, NORAD’s Christmas tradition pulled in a little bit of controversy when some criticized the fact that NORAD shows military jets accompanying the animated Santa across the sky.
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