NORAD Successfully Tracks Santa
By Merrie Schilter-Lowe
Special to American Forces Press Service
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Dec. 27, 2004 The North American Aerospace Defense Command, a binational command of Canadian and U.S. military forces, once again tracked Santa Claus on his Yuletide trip.
Using data obtained from a worldwide network of radar and satellites in space, and with the help of more than 360 volunteers, NORAD continued its 50th season of reporting on Santa's progress.
Santa began his journey at 5 a.m. Mountain time on Dec. 24. NORAD tracked his progress and provided near real-time updates to millions of children around the world by e-mail, the telephone and the Internet.
NORAD people translated tracking data into streaming audio and video updates and posted them to the a radar map on a special Web site that was available in French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese and English. Michael Perini, NORAD public affairs officer, said the site received 600 million visits and, as of 1 a.m. Christmas Day, more than 50,000 e-mail messages, possibly setting records in both categories.
NORAD also received nearly 60,000 phone calls in a 24-hour period. "We are still analyzing our data, so the final numbers won't be available for several weeks," said Perini. "E-mail messages specifically referencing NORAD were at about 5,000, and the gratitude and well-wishes contained in most attest to the power of this ongoing program.
"With our team of Santa helpers, we were able to answer most of the e-mails," Perini continued. "For many, we truly helped them enjoy this holiday and share it with family members. Most of the e-mail wished us success in our ongoing campaign and deployments against terrorists."
Children the world over used the site to track Santa's progress, Perini said, but they weren't alone. "The media also followed along closely, as NORAD tracked Santa with close to 1,000 electronic and print news stories appearing nationwide," he said. "My hat is off to everyone who participated this year."
NORAD's partners in tracking Santa included AOL Communications, Va.; Analytical Graphics Inc. Exton, Penn.; Globelink Language and Culture Services, Colo.; 24- 7 Web Studio, Colo.; Akamia Technologies, Inc., Cambridge, Mass.; ICG Communications, Colo.; MCI Government Markets, Va; and ClearCube Technology, Inc., Texas.
(Merrie Schilter-Lowe is assigned to NORAD Public Affairs.)