Air Force Lt. Col. David Hanson, of Chicago, takes a phone call from a child in Florida at the Santa Tracking Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, Colo.
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DENVER — Santa’s piling up more than presents this year. The big man’s trackers at NORAD say Santa Claus is also breaking records this Christmas Eve.
Volunteers for NORAD Tracks Santa at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado were fielding 4,000 calls an hour Saturday morning, on pace to break a record. Also, Santa’s NORAD Facebook page exceeded 840,000 “likes” by midmorning. Last year, Santa had 716,000 “likes.”
Volunteers at NORAD Tracks Santa said kids started calling at 4 a.m. Saturday to find out where Santa was.
“The phones are ringing like crazy,” Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis said Saturday.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command has been telling anxious children about Santa’s whereabouts every year since 1955. That was the year a Colorado Springs newspaper ad invited kids to call Santa on a hotline, but the number had a typo, and dozens of kids wound up talking to the Continental Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD’s predecessor.
The officers on duty played along and began sharing reports on Santa’s progress. It’s now a deep-rooted tradition at NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canada command that monitors the North American skies and seas from a control center at Peterson.
NORAD’s Santa updates are blowing up on social media, too. In addition to the website and Facebook and Twitter pages, Santa this year has a new tracking app for smart phones. The app includes the Elf Toss, a game similar to Angry Birds.