NORAD Santa trackers stand by for another big day

December 22, 2011 - 3:25 AM
NORAD Tracks Santa

FILE - In this Dec. 24, 2010 file image provided by noradsanta.org, the official NORAD tracking of Santa Claus is shown on a satellite map of the world. NORAD Tracks Santa, the official name of the exercise, began in 1955 when a Colorado Springs newspaper ad invited kids to talk to Santa on a hotline. The phone number had a typo, and dozens of kids wound up dialing the Continental Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, the predecessor to NORAD. Volunteer Santa-trackers at NORAD are bracing for tens of thousands of calls and emails on Christmas Eve this year. (AP Photo/NORAD, via noradsanta.org)

DENVER (AP) — Santa already is piling up hefty numbers on social networking sites, so the volunteer Santa-trackers at NORAD are bracing for tens of thousands of calls and emails on Christmas Eve.

NORAD Tracks Santa answered 80,000 phone calls last year from its operations center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Volunteers also answered 7,000 emails.

NORAD Tracks Santa started in 1955 because of a typo in a newspaper ad. Kids who thought they were calling Santa wound up talking to NORAD's predecessor.

Officers on duty played along and began relaying reports on Santa's progress. It's now a deep-rooted tradition at NORAD.

NORAD Tracks Santa already has more than 754,000 "likes" on Facebook this year, and 60,000 Twitter followers.

A new smart phone Santa-tracker app is also available this year.