8 million people tracked Santa on Web
DENVER, Colorado ” The North American Aerospace Defense Command said Wednesday that more than 8 million people around the world logged onto its Santa Claus tracking Web site on Christmas Eve.
More than 1,000 volunteers set a record by taking more than 94,000 phone calls and 10,000 e-mails from children hoping to pinpoint Saint Nick.
“Three hundred sixty-five days a year, NORAD provides aerospace security for North America, and we are proud of our mission and what we accomplish year round,” said Mike Perini, spokesman for the facility at Peterson Air Force Base. “But Christmas Eve is always a special day for the personnel at NORAD who are able to bring this program of good will to children around the world.”
Visits to the Web site, available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, have grown steadily since its launch in 1997. It allows users to track a global map of Santa’s trek and three-dimensional aerial images of Santa and his sleigh using software provided by search-engine giant Google.
NORAD said 8,014,359 visitors went to the site from 2 a.m. Monday through 2 a.m. Tuesday, with 28,048,215 page views from 212 countries and territories.
The tradition began in 1955 by accident when a “Santa hot line” listing in a newspaper department store advertisement listed an incorrect phone number. Col. Harry W. Shoup, the commander at the time, said he didn’t have the heart to hang up on the young children who began calling the number.
He assigned an officer to take the calls and the tradition was born.