The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is getting ready to tackle its annual holiday mission — tracking Santa’s storybook sleigh ride around the world.
Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs has been working for weeks for its one-day mission.
Miles of wire, dozens of computers and 157 telephone lines will greet hundreds of volunteers Thursday. Volunteers will be answering calls from an estimated 125,000 children around the globe looking for Santa’s whereabouts.
The call center in a training building will be staffed starting at 1 AM on December 24, for 23 hours on Christmas Eve. Volunteers will also share Santa’s location on Facebook and Twitter. Last year, Santa got 1.6 million Facebook likes.
NORAD’s 60th year of tracking Santa involves more than the military. The program is underwritten by contractors who pay for the phones, the computers and the website.
This year, First Lady Michelle Obama is expected to volunteer, with calls forwarded to her on Christmas Eve.
Volunteers will field a growing number of calls from curious kids from outside the US.
“We get a lot of calls from Europe, Australia and New Zealand,” said NORAD’s Stacey Knott, who has organized the Santa tracking for three years.
Bilingual volunteers handle the foreign-language inquiries.
On the bilingual front, NORAD, a partnership between the United States and Canada, has a distinct advantage.
“The great thing about having Canadian forces here is they can speak in French,” Canadian Maj. Jennifer Stadnyk said.
NORAD is responsible for defending the skies and monitoring the sea approaches for both nations.
Its control room was originally inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs in a shelter designed to withstand a nuclear attack.
NORAD’s control room is now at Peterson Air Force Base, also in Colorado Springs.