The headline is a little misleading. Santa’s online service was really not involved, but the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) Tracks Santa program hit highs in calls, emails and social-media followers on Dec. 24.
The 57-year-old operation, which is run by volunteers out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, uses NORAD’s worldwide radar network and defense satellites to keep tabs on St. Nick as he travels the world.
Volunteers for NORAD Tracks Santa take calls at the NTS Operations Center Dec. 24, 2012. More than 1,200 volunteers took over 114,000 calls over a 23-hour period. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher)
On Dec. 24 NORAD Tracks Santa’s 1,250 volunteers handled 114,000 calls and 11,000 emails. The site NORADSanta.org had 22.3 million unique visitors, up 19 percent, from 235 countries and territories.
Social media also played a large role this year, with the NORAD Tracks Santa Facebook page hitting 1.2 million followers, and 129,000 people followed Santa via Twitter, up 28 percent from last year. Santa fans also used their smartphones, with 1.5 million downloads of the Santa app taking place from the Apple Store, Google Play and the Windows Store.
“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.
Repeated calls to the North Pole went unanswered, which is understandable since Santa and his helpers are obviously tired from all the work needed to make Christmas 2012 such a success.