By American Forces Press ServiceNovember 20, 2006
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (Army News Service, Nov. 20, 2006) - In advance of the holiday season and its 51st season of tracking Santa Claus on his annual journey around the world, the North American Aerospace Defense Command last week activated its "NORAD Tracks Santa" Web site for 2006.
The U.S.-Canadian command's program began in 1955 when an errant phone call was made to NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The call was from a local child who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper advertisement.
The commander who answered the phone that night gave the youngster the information he requested - the whereabouts of Santa Claus - and thus the tradition of NORAD tracking Santa began.
The program has grown immensely since it was first presented on the Internet in 1998. Last year, the Web site received 912 million "hits" from 204 countries and territories. In addition, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center, occupied by 550 volunteers on Christmas Eve, answered nearly 55,000 phone calls and nearly 98,240 e-mails from children around the world.
The Web site - www.noradsanta.org - features the history of the program, information on how NORAD tracks Santa and interactive games. On Dec. 24, beginning at 2 a.m. Mountain Time, the Web site will feature a minute-by-minute update on Santa's travels around the world. All of this information is available English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
Island Web Studios, America Online, Akami, Analytical Graphics, Globelink Language and Cultural Services, Qwest Communications, Verizon, and Microsoft Virtual Earth help to make the program possible, NORAD officials said.
(From a North American Aerospace Defense Command news release.)