PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The North American Aerospace Defense Command is getting ready to track Santa’s yuletide journey! The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, went live today featuring a Countdown Calendar, a Kid’s Countdown Village complete with holiday games and activities that change daily, and video messages from students and troops from around the world. With the addition of Brazilian Portuguese, the website is now available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Chinese. This year, using free apps in the Apple iTunes Store and in the Android Market, parents and children can countdown the days until Santa’s take off on their smart phones! Tracking opportunities are also offered on Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and Twitter. Santa followers just need to type “@noradsanta” into each search engine to get started. Also on the website, fans can go to the Operation Good Will page and watch the live stream of the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service, on Dec. 1 beginning at 4:30 p.m. EST by clicking on the http://www.thenationaltree.org link. Starting at 12:00 a.m. MST on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa as he makes all the preparations for his flight. Then, at 4:00 a.m. MST (6:00 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can talk to a live phone operator to inquire about Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will also stream videos as Santa makes his way over various locations worldwide. NORAD Tracks Santa has truly become a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. It is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous contributors. New to this year’s program are Acuity Scheduling, Big Fish Worldwide, Carousel Industries, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council, General Electric, the National Tree Lighting Ceremony, RadiantBlue Technologies Inc., thunderbaby studios, the U.S. Coast Guard Band, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Band, Visionbox, and the West Point Band. Returning collaborators include the Air Force Academy Band, Analytical Graphics Inc., Air Canada, Avaya, Booz Allen Hamilton, Colorado Springs School District 11, the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System, the Federal Aviation Administration, First Choice Awards & Gifts, Globelink Foreign Language Center, Google, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Meshbox, the Naden Band of the Maritime Forces Pacific, Naturally Santa’s Inc., the Newseum, OnStar, PCI Broadband, the Space Foundation, tw telecom, Verizon and UGroup Media.
It all started in 1955 when a local media ad directed kids to call Santa direct – only the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. Thus began the tradition which NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958.