Christmas: Record number of calls to 'track Santa'
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Volunteers at a US Air Force base monitoring Santa Claus' progress around the world answered a record number of calls from children — and some adults — wanting to know everything from Saint Nick's age to how reindeer fly.
Oh, and when are the presents coming?
Hundreds of volunteers were answering the phones ringing nonstop Monday at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, headquarters of the North American Aerospace Command's annual Santa-tracking operation.
NORAD, a joint US-Canada command responsible for protecting the skies over both nations, says its Santa-tracking rite was born of a humble mistake in a newspaper ad in 1955.
The ad in a Colorado Springs newspaper invited children to call Santa but inadvertently listed the phone number for the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor, also based in Colorado Springs.
Officers played along. Since then, NORAD Tracks Santa has gone global, posting updates for nearly 1.2 million Facebook fans and 104,000 Twitter followers.
Spokeswoman 1st Lt Stacey Fenton said as of midnight, trackers had answered more than 111,000 calls, breaking last year's record of 107,000.
NORAD got calls from 220 countries and territories last year, and non-English-speakers called this year as well.
Volunteers who speak other languages get green Santa hats and a placard listing their languages so organizers can find them quickly.
"I'm from Newtown, Connecticut, where the shooting was," she remembered the child asking. "Is it possible that Santa can bring extra presents so I can deliver them to the families that lost kids?"
Sara, just 13 herself, gathered her thoughts quickly. "If I can get ahold of him, I'll try to get the message to him," she told the child.
US First Lady joined in answering calls
New York: First lady Michelle Obama, who is spending the holidays with her family in Hawaii, also joined in answering calls with NORAD as she has in recent years.