PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - The North American Aerospace Defense Command's NORAD Tracks Santa Program exceeded its own records in the number of calls, emails and social media followers this year.
The program, which began after a misprinted ad in a local paper in 1955, has more than 1,200 volunteers and NORAD staff answering queries on the location of Santa Claus as he circles the globe delivering presents.
The volunteers in the 23-hour NTS operations center answered 117,371 calls from children looking for Santa Claus - an increase of nearly 3 percent from 2012.
Military family members and community leaders volunteered their time to answer phone calls as well as 9,606 emails, exceeding last year's count. The first lady, Michelle Obama, also helped answer NORAD Tracks Santa calls for the fourth year in a row.
The NTS website, www.noradsanta.org, had 19.58 million unique visitors access the site from 234 countries and territories across the globe. The Facebook page topped 1.45 million "Likes", and the NTS Google+ page had 41,676 fans. More than 146,307 people also followed Santa's progress on Twitter.
Nearly 800 OnStar subscribers asked OnStar operators to locate Santa on Dec. 24, which is nearly 150% more than last year. The NTS site, featuring Bing and Cesium maps and other interactive games, also offered photos, videos and lots of fun facts about Santa and his reindeer throughout the month of December.
"Throughout the year the men and women of NORAD work hard to provide aerospace security for North America, but for this one night every year, we are able to help bring the magic of Christmas to children around the world," said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, NORAD's public affairs director.
"We at NORAD are honored to be a part of so many peoples' holiday traditions. Thank you to our many volunteers and corporate contributors for making this program possible, and we look forward to doing it again next year."