NORAD enhances Santa tracking abilities
- By Kathleen Hickey
- Dec 02, 2009
Children of all ages are now able to track Santa live through a variety of social media services and OnStar, thanks to updates to the North American Aerospace Defense Command's annual Santa tracking public service.
New this year, children and the young-at-heart can track Santa through mobile devices and the Internet via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, TroopTube.mil and OnStar. To follow Santa on these Web sites, users should type @noradsanta into the search engine. Dedicated Santa trackers who are also OnStar subscribers can follow the jolly old elf in their vehicles by pushing the blue OnStar button to get status reports on Santa’s whereabouts.
The NORAD Tracks Santa Web site, www.noradsanta.org, is now live and features holiday games and activities that change daily. The Web site is available in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Chinese. On Dec. 24, the Web site will stream videos, captured by NORAD “Santa Cams,” from cities along Santa’s journey.
On Christmas Eve, starting at midnight (Mountain Standard Time, which is 2 a.m. on the East Coast), Web site visitors can watch Santa prepare his sleigh, check his list, and get ready for his journey. As soon as Santa takes off from the North Pole, children can track him with up-to-the-minute Google Maps and Google Earth reports.
Old-fashioned telephone and e-mail tracking will also be available. Santa trackers will begin answering phones and replying to e-mail at 4 a.m. MST (6 a.m. EST) on Christmas Eve. Children of all ages can call the NTS toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
The NTS program began Dec. 24, 1955, after a child called the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., requesting Santa's whereabouts. The call was from a local youngster who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper advertisement. The quick-thinking commander at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., who answered the phone that night told the child where Santa was, and thus began the tradition of tracking Santa. NORAD, formed in 1958, took over and carried on the practice.
NORAD's Santa tracking Web site has grown to millions of unique visitors from hundreds of countries and territories since it debuted in 1998. The NTS Operations Center will be occupied for 25 hours with over 1,200 volunteers on Christmas Eve, who will be receiving hundreds of thousands of phone calls and e-mails from families around the world.
The NTS program is assisted by Booz Allen Hamilton, Verizon, Time Warner, Avaya, PCI, OnStar, 5 Star Bank, Pepsi Distributing, and First Choice Awards and Gifts.
Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.