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NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Program
NORAD santa

NORAD Tracks Santa Emblem
Active 1955 - present
Type Public Service Program
Role Three (3) important roles: 1) Inform the world of Santa Claus' current location on Christmas Eve, 2) Provide information about NORAD, Santa Claus, and why NORAD tracks Santa Claus, with an on-line interactive Countdown Village to Christmas Eve, featuring holiday-themed entertainment and games during December of each year, and 3) Inspire children and the young at heart around the world to think about how space technology and exploration play an increasingly important role in our daily lives.
Size More than 1,200 volunteers
Part of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
Garrison/HQ (2006 - Present) Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado; (1955-2005) Cheyenne Mountain AFS (Air Force Station), Colorado;
Colors Blue, Turquoise, Yellow, and Silver
Anniversaries December 24, Christmas Eve


NORAD Tracks Santa is the oldest and most well known Santa Tracking service offered to the public during December of each year. This Santa Tracking service is provided under the auspices of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint organization of Canada and the United States. Every year on Christmas Eve, "NORAD Tracks Santa" is in the role of following Santa Claus, as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. During December of each year the NORAD Tracks Santa program disseminates information about NORAD, Santa Claus, and why NORAD tracks Santa Claus, with an on-line Countdown Village to Christmas Eve, which some might consider a type of on-line "advent calendar", that features holiday-themed entertainment.

NTS Space Foundation Cert Imagine Logo

In December 2007, the Space Foundation recognized the NORAD Tracks Santa program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category of the Space Foundation's Space Certification Program.

The Space Foundation has recognized the NORAD Tracks Santa program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category of the Space Foundation's Space Certification Program. [1] [2].[1] [2] [3] The Space Foundation specifically cited NORAD and the NORAD Tracks Santa Program for their accomplishments as follows, "NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft. Not only do these systems utilize a variety of technologies developed for the space program, but the tradition of tracking Santa's progress itself inspires children around the world to think about how space technology and exploration play an increasingly important role in our daily lives." [3] [4]

The view of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program on Santa Claus is that "Based on historical data and more than 50 years of NORAD tracking information, we believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of children throughout the world."[5] The audience for the NORAD Tracks Santa Program are those who believe in the spirit of the winter holiday season and that Santa Claus is alive and real in one's heart. A sentiment illustrated in the editorial "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" that appeared in the September 21, 1897 issue of the New York Sun. Both Virginia's letter to the New York Sun and the editorial reply have been featured on the NORAD Tracks Santa website from its earliest years.[6]

According to Gerry Bowler, a history professor at the University of Manitoba and the author of Santa Claus: A Biography, of The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, and webinar host at the University of Manitoba on Christmas and Santa Claus, the NORAD Tracks Santa program and the various Santa Tracking efforts are "one of the few modern additions to the centuries-old Santa Claus story that have stuck. . . NORAD (and others) . . ., take(s) an essential element of the Santa Claus story - his travels on Christmas Eve – and looks at it through a technological lens. It brought Santa into the 20th century." And into the 21st century as well. [7]

Santa Tracker Theme Music Link to full size video

History

Historical Overview of the NORAD Track Santa Program

NORAD Why We Track Santa

1955 Sears ad with the misprinted telephone number that led to the NORAD Tracks Santa Program

According to NORAD's official web page on the NORAD Tracks Santa program, the history of the Santa tracking effort is:[8]

On December 24, 1955, a call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. However, this call was not from the president or a general. It was from a girl in Colorado Springs who was following the directions in an advertisement printed in the local paper (Note - The newspaper was The Gazette of Colorado Springs.[9]) – she wanted to know the whereabouts of Santa Claus.

The ad by a Colorado Springs-based Sears store said "Hey, Kiddies! Call me direct and be sure and dial the correct number." However, the number was printed incorrectly in the advertisement and rang into the CONAD operations center.

2005 MSNBC Cosmic Log - Santa Tracking Season - Colonel(Retired) Shoup Interview of November 28, 2005 by Alan Boyle. [10] Link to full size video

On duty that night was Colonel Harry Shoup, who has come to be known as the "Santa Colonel." Colonel Shoup received numerous calls that night and rather than hanging up, he had his operators find the location of Santa Claus and reported it to every child who phoned in that night. (Note - Colonel(Retired) Harry Shoup, the first Santa Tracker, passed away on March 14, 2009, at the age of 91.[11] [12] [13] [14] [4])

Thus began a tradition carried on by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) when it was formed in 1958. Today, through satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters, NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world.

Every Christmas Eve, thousands of volunteers staff telephones and computers to answer calls and e-mails from children (and adults) from around the world. Live updates are provided through the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site (in seven languages [Note - these languages include English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish, with Brazilian Portuguese used in prior years] ), over telephone lines, and by e-mail to keep curious children and their families informed about Santa’s whereabouts and if it’s time to get to bed.

Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site receives nearly nine million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers receive more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline from children around the globe.

From December 2009 onward, children and the young-at-heart are able to track Santa through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and TroopTube.tv. To follow NORAD Tracks Santa on any of these Web sites, type in @noradsanta into the search engine and start tracking.

NORAD Tracks Santa has become a magical and global phenomenon, delighting generations of families everywhere.

Now major media outlets as well as children call in to inquire on Santa's location. NORAD relies on volunteers to help make Santa tracking possible.[15] Many employees at Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base spend part of their Christmas Eve with their families and friends at NORAD's Santa Tracking Operations Center, in order to answer phones and provide Santa updates to thousands of callers. All told, each volunteer handles about 40 telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than 200 countries and territories during a NORAD Tracks Santa season. Most of these contacts happen during the 25 hours from 2 a.m. on December 24 through 3 a.m. on Christmas that the operations center is up and running.[8][15]

1956 to 1996

NTS Radar System 1960

NORAD Tracking Santa around 1960

The background storyline has changed with the world political situation. During the Cold War when the NORAD Santa tracking team provided updates via radio announcements, only North America was mentioned and Santa's approach was described in tense terms with interceptor aircraft scrambled to shoot down the "bogey." [16] [17] Only at the last minute would the pilot realize whom he was engaging. [18] [19]

From 1956 thru 1996, the primary way of obtaining timely tracking information on Santa Claus from the NORAD Tracks Santa program was by using the NORAD Tracks Santa program telephone hotline and listening to hourly radio broadcast updates, with occasional short film and video clips that were broadcast on television stations. NORAD Public Affairs annually provided to thousands of radio stations in the United States, Canada, France, and elsewhere, audio tapes that contained about five (5) reports, that were each about 1.5 minutes long, and that pinpointed Santa's location during his Christmas Eve journey around the world. Publicity about the effort was accomplished with annual December radio, newspaper, and television news stories.[20] [21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30]

In 1964, for the tenth (10th) tracking season of NORAD Tracks Santa, NORAD's Directorate of Public Affairs and Century Records produced a commemorative album of NORAD Tracking Santa news reports with promotional spots and Christmas season music.[19] [31] An example television film clip in the 1960's of NORAD tracking Santa, was a January 1, 1966 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television news story of NORAD tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve in 1965, called "Holly and Frosty Squadrons, this is Christmas Control". [32]

After the end of the Cold War in 1991, the background storyline in the 1990's for the NORAD tracking Santa program changed. Now the NORAD emphasis shifted to identifying Santa to: 1) ensure that he was not a "smuggler", and 2) provide him with an escort so that he would not have any difficulty with the various Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) while flying through Canada and the United States of America. [29][30]

For the 1996 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the year before NORAD Tracks Santa went on the internet, more than 15,000 Santa-related telephone calls were received by NORAD.[33] However, as the year 1996 ended, the NORAD Tracks Santa program, which while very popular, had become rather “staid” as a primarily telephone-based operation with some newspaper, radio, and television spots, in an era with widespread deployment of the World Wide Web underway.

1997

In July 1997, then Major Jamie Robertson, Canadian Forces, arrived at NORAD as the new Deputy for Public Affairs, following previous highly successful Canadian Forces public affairs assignments. Major Robertson had been active on the internet and the World Wide Web since 1993 and had used both as a key part of his successful prior public affairs assignments. He immediately saw an opportunity for NORAD, which embodied the use of “leading edge” and “state of the art” technology, to take the Santa Tracking program to the next level of the World Wide Web. [34][35]

Fortunately, Analytical Graphics, Inc., with its expertise in animated space imagery and the Satellite Tool Kit (STK), was a suitable partner. As result, in few months in the second half of 1997, Major Robertson, with supporting staff, and Analytical Graphics, Inc. as a partner, successfully expanded the annual NORAD Tracks Santa program to the World Wide Web, where corporation-donated services have given the tradition global accessibility.[34][35]

For the first year of NORAD Tracks Santa on the internet in 1997, Analytical Graphics, Inc. and NORAD teamed together to provide children with news of Santa sightings using features such as digital animation of Santa's trip around the globe and "live" hourly audio reports on his progress.[33] [36] [37] Everyone was surprised by the avalanche of interest and web activity, spurred by nearly 200 TV spots, which at times overloaded the system from 20 million website hits in 24 hours, sometimes running at 30,000 website hits a minute.[38] Additionally, volunteers at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center handled 17,000 telephone calls on Christmas Eve to relay NORAD's radar and satellite readings on Santa Claus.[39]

1998

MAJ Robertson - Naturally Santas - Colorado Springs - CO

Major Jamie Robertson, Canadian Forces, Deputy Director of NORAD Public Affairs and Founding Chief Santa Tracker at NORAD with the Santas of Naturally Santa, Inc. of Colorado Springs, CO outside of NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Headquarters.

During 1998, the NORAD Tracks Santa Program received recognition and appreciation from many, to include Naturally Santa, Inc. of Colorado Springs, CO.

December 24, 1998 BBC News Story - NORAD Tracks Santa on the Internet - Origination of the NORAD Tracks Santa program in 1955 - Story by then Major Jamie Robertson of NORAD. [40] Link to full size video

In 1998, NORAD and Analytical Graphics, Inc. teamed with IBM's hosting services to support the traffic load, using the same system that IBM had successfully used for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, with the capacity to accommodate more than 70 million website hits a day and peak loads of 700,000 website hits per minute.[39] Over a two-day period the site responded to 28 million website hits spurred by coverage from over 400 print and TV ads.[41] For the 1998 NORAD Tracking Santa season as a whole, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received over 80 million website hits.[42] Approximately 3 million people browsed the NORAD Tracks Santa website during the 24 hours before Christmas of 1998.[43] 1998 was also the year that the NORAD Tracks Santa website went multi-lingual with English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.[44] [45] The use of the internet in 1998 to track Santa was still considered a "new" phenomena when reported by BBC News on Christmas Eve of 1998.[40]

Canadian NORAD Region Jet Fighter Escort for Santa Claus and the NORAD Tracks Santa website

NORAD Jet Fighters Santa 2008

Canadian NORAD Region Jet Fighters and Santa Claus Escort

The NORAD Tracks Santa website from 1998 thru 2005 showed that as Santa approached Newfoundland in Canada, a flight of Canadian NORAD Region/Canadian Air Force fighters (CF-18 Hornets) had a rendezvous with Santa in order to provide him an escort/honor guard and ensure that he had no difficulty with the various Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) he must enter flying through Canada. [46]

The Canadian NORAD Region still designates escort pilots for the annual Christmas Eve journey of Santa Claus, even for those years when a Santa Cam video is not shown of their escorts duties.[47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] See article Canadian NORAD Region and the Canadian Contributions to the NORAD Tracks Santa Program for more information.

1999

For the 1999 NORAD Tracking Santa season, NORAD and Analytical Graphics, Inc. teamed with IBM again. This time the media published over 65 print stories and 426 television stations reported on the NORAD Tracks Santa website. An extraordinary 52 million hits were delivered by the NORAD Tracks Santa website during the twenty-four hours before Christmas.[41] Approximately 10 million people browsed the NORAD Tracks Santa webiste during the 24 hours before Christmas of 1999.[43] Fortunately the systems used by NORAD, NORAD Tracks Santa, and Santa Claus were all Y2K (Year 2000) compliant. Santa Claus had taken his own precautions against Y2K computer problems, citing familiarity with the "Y1K" changeover of 999-1000.[53] The 1999 NORAD Tracking Santa season was the year that Brazilian Portuguese joined the multi-lingual NORAD Tracks Santa website languages of English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.[42] Eighty-two (82) NORAD Tracks Santa program volunteers at NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station headquarters responded to more than 7,000 phone calls from children and the young at heart around the world on Christmas Eve of 1999. [54]

NTS – PRSA - Bronze Anvil Certificate – 1999

The 1999 Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Bronze Anvil Certificate of Commendation for the NORAD Tracks Santa Claus program having the best website in 1998.

In 1999, thanks to Major Robertson’s enthusiastic and inspired leadership, the NORAD Tracks Santa website and program received more than 45 international Internet awards for website excellence. In addition to several American awards, such as the USA Today Hotsite award, ABC News.Com Site of the Week, and the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Bronze Anvil Certificate of Commendation in 1999 for best website, awards were received from Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Japan. The worldwide recognition included the Medaille d’Or Award from France and the Web Academy Award from Britain -- two of the Internet’s most highly prized awards. [54]

2000

For the year 2000 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received about 100 million website hits.[55] One of the causes of this increased volume was the "discovery" of the NORAD Tracks Santa website by a multitude of web search engines.[43] Also, America Online, in 2000 the world's leading Internet online service, replaced IBM's hosting services in order to support the growing internet traffic load faced by the NORAD Tracks Santa Program.[56]

2000-12 - NTS - MAJ Robertson

Major Jamie Robertson, Canadian Forces, Deputy Director of NORAD Public Affairs and Founding Chief Santa Tracker on the right at the NORAD Control Center in NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain Headquarters. [57]

Answering the thousands of telephone calls during Christmas Eve on the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline were a corps of 100 volunteers at the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Operations Center.[58]

2001

2001 CBC News Story - NORAD Tracks Santa of December 24, 2001, featuring NORAD's Chief Santa Tracker then Major Douglas Martin, Canadian Forces [59] Link to full size video

For the 2001 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received 289 million website hits and more than 150 volunteers from the Army, Navy, Marines and Canadian forces staffed the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center and hotline to answer 7,000 phone calls.[60] [61] This was made possible by extensive successful testing beforehand.[62] Even with the challenges NORAD faced in the last half of 2001, such as overseeing Operation Noble Eagle, thanks to the leadership of NORAD’s Chief Santa Tracker, the 2001 NORAD Tracking Santa season was an outstanding success.

2002

AaronCarter4b

Honorary Santa Tracker for 2002 Aaron Carter and Santa Claus being briefed on the NORAD Tracks Santa program in October 2002 by Major Douglas Martin, Canadian Forces, Deputy Director of NORAD Public Affairs and Chief Santa Tracker.

For the 2002 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received 294.5 million website hits, and NORAD received 37,000 e-mails and 27,000 phone calls from more than 100 countries.[63] The year 2002 was the first year that a toll-free "1-800" type telephone number was available for children and the young at heart across the United States of America and Canada to call the NORAD Santa Tracking hotline without incurring long distance charges.[64] The NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center had more than 375 volunteers to update callers on Santa's Christmas Eve progress.[65] For the 2002 NORAD Tracks Santa season, Aaron Carter was an honorary Santa Tracker who provided voice updates about Santa's whereabouts as he helped NORAD track Santa's progress on Christmas Eve in 2002.[66] The appointment of Aaron Carter as an honorary Santa Tracker occurred due to the inspired leadership of NORAD’s Chief Santa Tracker and as a way to increase the visibility of the NORAD Tracks Santa program among the teen market. The key NORAD Tracks Santa partner America Online saw having an Honorary Santa Tracker from the music industry as a way to make its strategy of combining internet access with cross-selling music and other entertainment content a success in the youth market. [67]

2003

2004 - ringo thankspage thumb

Primary Honorary Santa Tracker for 2003 and 2004 Ringo Starr in his Santa Tracking outfit.

For the 2003 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received 577 million website hits, and more than 400 volunteers at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center received and answered 60,000 e-mails and 49,229 phone calls.[45] Ringo Starr, the former Beatle star, began his two-year term as primary honorary Santa Tracker for the 2003 and 2004 NORAD Tracking Santa seasons. According to NORAD officials, he was "a Starr in the east" who assisted in NORAD's Santa-tracking tradition in 2003 and 2004.[68] He was also the voiceover for the London Santa Cam in Santa's annual Christmas Eve journey in 2003 and 2004.[69] The appointment of Ringo Starr, as an honorary Santa Tracker occurred due to the even more inspired leadership of NORAD’s Chief Santa Tracker and as a way to increase the visibility of the NORAD Tracks Santa program among not only among the teen market, but also among the nostalgic 1960’s young at heart market as well. The key NORAD Tracks Santa partner America Online saw the coup of having Ringo Starr as an Honorary Santa Tracker as a way to make its strategy of combining internet access with cross-selling music and other entertainment content a success in the both the youth market and the nostalgic 1960’s young at heart market as well. [67]

2004

Major Douglas Martin, Chief, Santa Tracking Operations, NORAD interviewed by Joyce Gramza for the 50th tracking season of NORAD Tracks Santa in December 2004. [70] Link to full size video

The 2004 Christmas season was the fiftieth (50th) tracking season of NORAD's annual tracking of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. During 2004 NORAD Tracking Santa season, more than 360 volunteers at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center received and answered more than 50,000 e-mail messages, 55,000 telephone calls, and there were 912 million hits on the NORAD Tracks Santa website from 181 countries. The media also followed along closely as NORAD tracked Santa with close to 1,000 electronic and print news stories appearing in the United States of America and in Canada.[71] Ringo Starr wrapped up his two-year term as primary honorary Santa Tracker with the 2004 NORAD Tracking Santa season.[69]

2005

The 2005 Christmas season marked the fiftieth (50th) anniversary of NORAD's annual tracking of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.[72] During the 2005 NORAD Tracking Santa season, more than 500 volunteers at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center answered the 52,000 telephone calls that got thru (out the 563,452 attempted telephone calls made), and answered the 103,156 e-mails messages from children and the young at heart from around the world.[73][74] [75] In terms of languages at the multi-lingual NORAD Tracks Santa website, for the 2005 NORAD Tracking Santa season German replaced Brazilian Portuguese, with the other five languages continuing to be English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.[76] For the fiftieth (50th) anniversary of NORAD's annual tracking of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and with a new partner of Microsoft's Windows Live Local with Virtual Earth, the NORAD Tracks Santa program first used Microsoft Virtual Earth-style maps with graphics and animation developed by Analytical Graphics Incorporated that instantly provided Santa's current location.[77] [78] The 2005 NORAD tracking Santa season was the first season that one could sent e-mail to Santa Claus at the North Pole from the NORAD Tracks Santa website. This service was provided by Official Santa Mail from 2005 thru 2007 at the NORAD Tracks Santa website. [79]

2006

NTS Santa Trackers Wanted - 2006 - AFG-061129-007

Volunteers are wanted for the 2006 NORAD Santa tracker program. Call NORAD Public Affairs to volunteer.

During the 2006 NORAD Tracking Santa season of November and December 2006, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received nearly a billion hits from 210 countries and territories around the world. The 2006 NORAD Tracking Santa effort brought in 800 volunteers for holiday phone duty, thanks to an excellent recruitment drive by NORAD Public Affairs, compared with 550 in 2005.[80] The number of telephone lines were raised from 35 in 2005 to 70 by November 2006, and the number of computers set aside for handling e-mail went up from from 12 in 2005 to 20 in November 2006.[75] As a result of this growth, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center relocated from a small building just outside the Cheyenne Mountain AFS (Air Force Station) complex to a larger building on Peterson AFB.[80] More than half a million people called the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline during the season with 85,000 telephone calls on Christmas Eve, and volunteers received nearly 96,000 e-mails from children around the globe.[81][82] [83]

2007

July 25, 2010 Broadcast of a July 16, 2010 Interview with Major Stacia Reddish on the 2007 NORAD Tracks Santa Program. [84] Link to full size video

In 2007, the NORAD Tracks Santa program sponsor changes included Google and Booz Allen Hamilton becoming sponsors for the first time, when they replaced America Online, who had been a sponsor since the year 2000.[85] [86] [87] The displacement of America Online by the Google and Booz Allen Hamilton alliance occurred when America Online, by that time facing severe revenue declines and under tremendous profitability pressure, balked at providing the NORAD Tracks Santa Program with an interactive Web 2.0 website and wanted the NORAD Tracks Santa Program to stay at the static Web 1.0 level. The Google and Booz Allen Hamilton alliance was willing to take the NORAD Tracks Santa Program to the Web 2.0 level of interactivity and therefore was accepted by the NORAD Tracks Santa Program as the new co-sponsoring lead partners. [84]

NORAD Tracks Santa 2007 ops center large

More than 1,000 military and civilian volunteers answered nearly 95,000 telephone calls and more than 10,000 e-mails at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center on Christmas Eve (December 24) of 2007 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

For the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season, Google Earth was used for the first time to track Santa Claus in 3-D.[14] During the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa website received 10.6 plus million unique visitors from 212 countries and territories. In addition, the 1,012 volunteers at the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Operations Center answered 94,743 telephone calls and 10,326 emails from children and the young at heart around the world.[88][89] In 2007, the NORAD Tracks Santa program made its presence known at the NORADTracksSanta Channel on YouTube, as part of the partnership with Google.[90] The 2007 NORAD Tracks Santa infrastructure integration effort, in the words of Google's Official Blog, was, "In 2007, Google became NORAD's official Santa Tracking technology partner and hosted www.noradsanta.org. In addition to tracking Santa in Google Earth, we added a Google Maps tracker and integrated YouTube videos into the journey as well. Now, we had Santa on the map and on 'Santa Cam' arriving in several different locations around the world, with commentary in six different languages. The heavy traffic — several millions of users — put Google's infrastructure to the test, but with some heroic work by our system reliability engineers, the Santa Tracker worked continuously."[91] To analyze this heavy traffic Google and the NORAD Tracks Santa program used Google Analytics.[92] Starting with the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa program received recognition from the Space Foundation with their "seal of approval" under their Space Certification Program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category [5] [6] [7], for having increased interest in and excitement for space by children and the young at heart world-wide.[1] [2] The contribution of the RAF Fylingdales radar tracking station in the United Kingdom to the world-wide Santa Claus tracking effort was first publicized during the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season.[93]

2008

2008 - Santa NORAD Pre-Breif

Santa Claus meets with Maj. Gen. John Borderlon on Dec. 23, 2008 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., to discuss Santa's Christmas Eve flight. General Borderlon is the chief of staff for North American Aerospace Defense Command and Northern Command. Santa received Federal Aviation Administration, weather and air mission briefs.

The 2008 NORAD Tracking Santa season was the fiftieth (50th) Anniversary of NORAD's involvement (from NORAD's founding on May 12, 1958) in supporting the NORAD Tracks Santa Program.[94] During the 2008 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center kicked into high gear at 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 24, 2008. More than 1,200 Santa tracking volunteers cycled through the center, with 100 phones and 25 computers, answering telephone calls and emails from children around the world wanting to get a fix on Santa Claus' whereabouts. Each volunteer handled about 39 calls per hour.[15] A total of 73,872 telephone calls and 6,086 emails from around the world were answered in the center by NORAD Santa trackers in 2008. The NORAD Tracks Santa website garnered 8,785,186 unique visitors to the site since going live on December 1, 2008, and received 15,828,663 visits.[95][96] In terms of languages at the multi-lingual NORAD Tracks Santa website, for the 2008 NORAD Tracking Santa season Chinese became the seventh language for the first time, joining the other six languages of English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.[89] The choice of Chinese as the seventh language, was a result of Google Analytics analysis of the 2007 NORAD Tracks Santa season website traffic reporting that visitors from China spent twice as long on site as the average.[92] In 2008, the NORAD Tracks Santa program made its presence known on Twitter as noradsanta, with the sending out of "tweets" every few minutes on Christmas Eve to a few thousand followers.[89][97] Also, 2008 was the year that Smartphone and many other mobile device users were able to track Santa on Google Maps for Mobile obtained via a mobile-optimized site (m.noradsanta.org) or by searching for "Santa" on Google Maps for Mobile.[98] [99] There was also an iTunes application (or app) available for download at the iTunes Store to help track Santa on Christmas Eve.[98][100] For 2008 NORAD tracking Santa season, Canada Post (Canada's Post Office) took over from Official Santa Mail, the sending of e-mail to Santa Claus at the North Pole from the NORAD Tracks Santa website. [101]

NTS PRSA 2009 Silver Anvil Award

As a result, the NORAD Tracks Santa program won the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) 2009 Silver Anvil Award of Excellence for the 50th anniversary in 2008 of NORAD’s annual Tracking of Santa Claus (NORAD being the successor in 1958 to the U.S.-only CONAD annual Tracking of Santa Claus effort that started in 1955). The full category title of the PRSA 2009 Silver Anvil Award is “2009 Silver Anvil Award of Excellence Winner – Event and Observances – Seven or Fewer Days – Government” and the award title is “NORAD Tracks Santa: Keeping the Dream Alive.[102]

2009

Video of the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Operations Center in operation on Christmas Eve (December 24) of 2009 with more than 1,200 volunteers in multiple work shifts. Link to full size video
2009 - NTS Ops Ctr

The NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Operations Center in operation on Christmas Eve (December 24) of 2009 with more than 1,200 volunteers in multiple work shifts

The 2009 NORAD Tracking Santa season featured a 25-hour operations center where more than 1,200 volunteers from the military and the Colorado Springs community answered more than 74,000 phone calls and 3,500 e-mails from people around the world asking the location of Santa Claus. More than 13 million visitors from 231 countries and territories also tracked Santa on the NORAD Tracks Santa website. This site, which featured both an interactive map and the Google Earth map, offered photos, videos and family-friendly games for visitors throughout the month of December. In addition to the phone calls and website, NORAD Tracks Santa expanded its presence in the social arena in 2009, with new first time presences on Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and TroopTube.tv.[103] [14] [104] The NORAD Tracks Santa program had approximately 27,440 twitter followers on December 25, 2009 and the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Facebook fan page continued to grow with more than 410,700 fans. Visitor comments on the Facebook fan page ranged from simple heartfelt "Thank you’s," to Santa sightings, songs, and charming stories of families brought together to share the Christmas spirit. Many families continue to make NORAD Tracks Santa an annual event.[103] In 2009, OnStar partnered with the NORAD Tracks Santa program to provide OnStar subscribers with live Santa updates as they travel in their vehicles on Christmas Eve. Subscribers simply pushed the blue OnStar button to get status reports on Santa's whereabouts.[105][106][107] [108] Also in 2009, Google went to a display of Santa's journey with the Google Earth plug-in directly on the NORAD Tracks Santa site, instead of using the Google Earth client. As a result, one was able to follow Santa's 2009 journey in Google Earth's immersive, three-dimensional (3-D) environment directly within one's web browser.[109] For 2009 NORAD tracking Santa season, while one could send an e-mail message to the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center (using Google Mail), the feature of being able to send e-mail to Santa Claus at the North Pole from the NORAD Tracks Santa website was dropped.

In November 2009, for the first time, the Russian Federation was offering competition to the NORAD Tracks Santa effort by planning to use their GLONASS (GLObal NAvigation Satellite System or “the Russian GPS”) to track Father Frost (“or the Russian and Soviet Santa Claus”) on New Years Eve (per the Gregorian Calendar) and to help Father Frost and his helpers navigate on their gift giving journey. How well this actually worked on New Years Eve of 2010 is not known. [110] See article section GLONASS Tracks Father Frost for 2009 for more information.

2010

NTS - Air Canada

Air Canada, a new NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Partner for 2010, had this public service announcement in its December 2010 issue of its in-flight magazine, enRoute.

The 2010 NORAD Tracking Santa season, which started on Wednesday, December 1, 2010, marked the fifty-fifth (55th) anniversary of NORAD's annual tracking of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.[111]

On Christmas Eve (December 24) of 2010, more than 1,200 volunteers in the 25-hour NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) operations center answered 80,456 calls from children looking for Santa Claus (up almost nine (9) percent from 2009). Volunteers ranged from Peterson AFB family members volunteering their time to First LadyMichelle Obama, who answered NTS calls from Hawaii. They also answered 7,023 emails, which is double last year’s count. The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, had 15,476,016 unique visitors access the site from 227 countries and territories across the globe (up 16 percent from 2009), while visitors to the NORAD Tracks Santa Facebook page topped 715,000. More than 53,000 people also followed Santa’s progress on Twitter, which was nearly double the number from the previous year. The NORAD Tracks Santa site, which featured ultra-cool Google Earth maps and other interactive games, also offered photos, videos and lots of fun facts about Santa and his reindeer throughout the month of December 2010. [112]

New for 2010 for the English language webpages were: 1) NORAD and the NORAD Tracks Santa Program teamed up with local Colorado Springs School District 11 to bring more holiday cheer and expand the educational footprint of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program. See article Colorado Springs School District 11 for more information; and 2) The NORAD Tracks Santa Program expanded its global impact with invited student videos from around the world. See article Holiday Videos from Around the World for more information. The Kid's Countdown Village was expanded and improved for 2010.

2010 – Father Frost GLONASS Staff

Father Frost with GLONASS Navigation Staff

On November 18, 2010, the competition between the NORAD Tracks Santa effort and the Russian-led GLONASS Tracks Father Frost effort heated up when both the Ria Novosti (Russian International News Agency) and Voice of Russia announced that for Father Frost’s November 18 birthday, [113] Ivan Nechayev, the executive director of the Russian Navigation Technologies company, presented Father Frost with a special staff equipped with a GLONASS navigation module in the crystal-shaped top of the staff. The navigation crystal is 180 centimeters (7 inches) in height and weighs 3 kilograms (7 pounds). The navigation crystal transmits Father Frost’s coordinates to a special center, which publishes them on the internet, at website of www.dmglonass.ru, so that everyone can follow his progress on his traditional voyage in preparation for the New Year. Ivan Nechayev, mentioned in his remarks that “Technical innovations have become an essential part of modern life. Therefore, Father Frost has mastered computer skills, receives e-mails from children, has blogs in social networks and uses a cell phone to communicate with other winter holiday wizards (magicians).”[114] [115] [116] See article sections GLONASS Tracks Father Frost for 2010 and GLONASS Tracks Father Frost's Official Website for more information.

2010 NORAD Tracks Santa Holiday Video Message by US Olympic Military Athletes at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA Link to full size video

In 2010, the NORAD Tracks Santa program stayed ahead of its competition by recognizing the “true celebrities” among NORAD’s military, civilian, associated contractor partners, and family members as well as among NORAD Tracks Santa's student and the young at heart watchers and fans world-wide. The 55th Anniversary of the NORAD Tracks Santa program saw an infusion of new partners, to include Air Canada, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Colorado Springs School District 11, UTDi (Unified TelData, Inc.) AGI (Analytical Graphics, Inc.), Toys for Tots, and Xtomic. [111] As a result, there was greater publicity for the NORAD Tracks Santa program, such as Air Canada’s public service announcement for NORAD Tracks Santa program in the December 2010 issue of its in-flight magazine,and the NORAD Tracks Santa program and its partners (including the Original Google Engineering Elf, Brian McClendon in the back row clapping [117]) ringing the The Closing Bell on December 20, 2010 at the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ensured that Santa’s sleigh (known as Santa One) was certified for flight with NextGen technology, and in cooperation with AirServices Australia (Who also has their own Santa Tracker project. See article Airservices Australia Tracks Santa for more information.) with ADS-B technolgy, so that he can fly more efficiently and make gliding type landings onto rooftops. [118] [119] [120]

NORAD Tracks Santa Program 2010
NTS - NYSE – 20 Dec 2010.jpg
Representatives from the NORAD Tracks Santa program and some of the partners from Google, Booz Allen Hamilton and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, who help sponsor the NORAD Tracks Santa Program, joined together at the NYSE alongside the one and only Santa from Macy’s to get people geared up to track Santa as he makes his yuletide journey. In honor of the occasion, they rang The Closing Bell on Dec. 20, 2010.[121]
CONR Deputy - Tyndall Elem – Dec 2010.jpg
Continental U.S. NORAD Region Deputy Commander Brigadier General Chris Coates takes questions from inquisitive 2nd Graders from Tyndall Elementary School, Florida after the general spoke to the children about the "NORAD Tracks Santa" program.
Wounded Warrior Amb Castle – Dec 2010.jpg
Wounded warrior Shaun Castle shows children in two kindergarten classes at Sipsey Elementary School in Sipsey, Alabama how to track Santa with NORAD on the NORAD Tracks Santa website. Shaun said the children “were amazed that NORAD can track Santa everywhere. They were even more amazed that NORAD receives daily updates from the North Pole.” Shaun routinely visits the classes to read to them.
NTS Pilots – 4 Wing – Dec 2010.jpg
409 Squadron Commander, Lt.-Col. Eric Kenny, and Captain Chad Ireland of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, were tasked to handle NORAD’s Santa escort duties as Santa Claus made his way into Western Canada on Christmas Eve of 2010. [52]


After four (4) four months of planning to marshal the 1,200 plus volunteers, 100 telephones, 30 laptops and two (2) big projection TV screens, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center (NTSOC) started operations on Christmas Eve (December 24) of 2010. [7] The news media conducted more than 20 interviews with the NORAD Commander, Deputy Commander, and members of the NORAD Public Affairs Directorate on Christmas Eve of 2010, starting at 4:15 am Mountain Time Zone (MST). [122]

New for the 2010 NORAD Tracking season was the First Lady of the Unites States of America, Mrs. Michelle Obama, with two daughters interested in tracking Santa and in an excellent example of telework from Hawaii, served as a NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center volunteer. [123] She took calls for almost 40 minutes and spoke with children from at least a dozen families. [7] The same day, the White House Office of Communications released transcripts of “Remarks by The First Lady to Children While Tracking Santa with NORAD by Telephone on 24 December 2010” between 1200 hrs Hawaii Standard Time (HST) to 1238 hrs HST on 24 December 2010.


NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center (NTSOC) on Christmas Eve 2010
NTSOC – 24 Dec 2010.jpg
Volunteers take phone calls and answer emails at the Santa Tracking Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Dec. 24, 2010. Lots of military secrets are hidden behind the gleaming walls of NORAD'S headquarters building, including this one: Just how do they get Santa's flight path onto their computer screens every Christmas Eve? [124]
NTOSC – Vol 1 – 24 Dec 2010.jpg
A military volunteer takes a phone call from a youngster in Florida at the Santa Tracking Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Dec. 24, 2010. Volunteers take as many as 80,000 phone calls from youngsters and adults around the world with questions about Santa and his travels. [124]
NTOSC – Vol 2 – 24 Dec 2010.jpg
A civilian volunteer talks with a youngster asking about Santa's whereabouts at the Santa Tracking Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, Dec. 24, 2010. [124]


Patric Covey from Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA organizes and hosts a 15 hour live video blog show on NORAD Tracking Santa on Christmas Eve of 2010. [125] Link to full size video

Also new for 2010, was a highly publicized, in the NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube fan community, 15 hour live video blog on Christmas Eve of 2010 that Patric Covey of Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA hosted at this video blog webpage of Blog TV Tracking Santa Webpage that had 3,000 plus viewers. The host is a YouTube, internet, wikis, Wikipedia, and video blog expert who is in his second year of hosting this live Christmas Eve broadcast on NORAD Tracking Santa. [126] [125] Patric Covey successfully applied the "Dragonfly Effect" model principles of 1) Focus, 2) Grab Attention, 3) Engage, and 4) Take Action, in organizing and hosting his Santa Tracking video blog for two Christmas Eves in a row.

As the 2010 NORAD Tracks Santa season came to a close, the devoted fans of the NORAD Tracks Santa program continue to gather and publish information, as well as fan information, about the NORAD Tracks Santa program from 1955 to the present on YouTube, Wikis, Wikipedia, video blogs, and other places on the internet.


2011 - Fanbase Questions

NTS- 1 Dec – Kickoff - Trek

NORAD Tracks Santa Preparing for 1 Dec Countdown Launch

The 2011 NORAD Tracking Santa season will start on Thursday, December 1, 2011, when once more the NORAD Tracks Santa website will be accessible to the public.

These are among the many questions that the NORAD Tracks Santa fan base have asked regarding the upcoming 2011 NORAD Tracking Season:

1. Will the Student Videos and School Partner videos be translated into other languages and linked to from non-English language webpages from the NORAD Tracks Santa website ??

2. Will the NORAD Tracks Santa program add Russian as the eighth language and Korean as the ninth language to the NORAD Tracks Santa program ??

3. Will there be a student video from an international school based in St. Petersburg, Russia and/or Moscow, Russia ??

4. Will there be a NORAD Tracks Santa "Santa Cam" video showing Santa flying past Veliky Ustyug (Great Ustyug) in the Vologda Oblast (Region), Russia on the way to St. Petersburg, Russia ??

5. Will the NORAD Tracks Santa website in December 2011 feature the NORAD Tracks Santa program awards such as the recognition from the Space Foundation with their "seal of approval" under their Space Certification Program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category [8] [9], for having increased interest in and excitement for space by children and the young at heart world-wide ?? [1] [2]

6. Will the NORAD Tracks Santa program fans once again be able to send e-mail notes to Santa Claus at the North Pole using the NORAD Santa website, with the help of a NORAD Tracks Santa partner, as was possible during the 2005 thru 2008 NORAD Tracking Santa seasons ??

7. With Brazil hosting the 2014 FIFA (Soccer) World Cup and the increased publicity that will accrue to Brazil, will the NORAD Tracks Santa program restore Brazilian Portuguese as the tenth language to the NORAD Tracks Santa program ??

8. Will NORAD Public Affairs and the NORAD Tracks Santa Program partners be developing and publishing an "Official History" of the NORAD Tracks Santa program with commemorative CD-ROMs and/or DVDs with Santa Claus annual journeys as recorded on Santa Cams by the NORAD Tracks Santa program from 1997 thru 2010, and including "behind the scenes" commentary, interviews with key people, video clips, and the like ??

9. With an emphasis to encourage telework by both the Canadian and American Federal Governments and to built upon the NORAD Tracks Santa telework example set by the First Lady of the Unites States of America, Mrs. Michelle Obama on Christmas Eve of 2010, will the NORAD Tracks Santa Program be taking expanded telework “baby steps” of having “satellite” NORAD Tracks Santa Operation Centers (NTSOCs) on Christmas Eve of 2011 at the NORAD Canada Region Headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, at NORAD Alaska Region Headquarters on Elmendorf Air Force Base, adjacent to Anchorage, Alaska, and at NORAD U.S. Continental Region Headquarters and 601st Air and Space Operations Center on Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Florida ?? [127] [128]

10. Are the NORAD Tracks Santa partners and sponsors interested in opening a year-round on-line store to sell NORAD Tracks Santa memorabilia items such as T-shirts, pens, bags, plaques, reissue as a CD-ROM the 1964 NORAD Tracks Santa 10th Tracking Season Commemorative Album, CD-ROM CD-ROM’s and DVDs of Santa prior year journeys from 1997 thru 2010 with value added behind the scenes commentary and video vignettes, and other commemorative items ??

11. Will the Canadian Governor General’s spouse and/or the Canadian Prime Minister’s spouse be participating as a NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center (NTSOC) volunteer(s) on Christmas Eve of 2011 on a telework basis from Canada ??

12. Will the American First Family host a Winter Holiday Wizards conference or "summit" in Hawaii in December 2011, after the conclusion of Santa Claus' annual Christmas Eve journey in Hilo, Hawaii on Christmas Day, featuring Santa Claus, Father Frost, Finland's Joulupukki or "Yule Goat", Iceland's Jólasveinar or "Yule Lads", the Scandinavian "Christmas Gnome," the Italian La Befana, the Basque Olentzero, and other Winter Holiday wizards ??


2011

The 2011 NORAD Tracking Santa season, which started on Thursday, December 1, 2010, marked the fifty-sixth (56th) anniversary of NORAD's annual tracking of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.[129]

December 2011 also marked the 15th tracking season since Lt.Col.(Retired) Jamie Robertson, CD (as Deputy Director of NORAD Public Affairs from 1997 to 2001) first placed the NORAD Tracks Santa program out on the web and internet in December 1997.

Google continued to be an exemplar of “cloud computing” and “green computing” in hosting the NORAD Tracks Santa program website in December 2011. It is more than coincidence that Google’s successful use of both “cloud computing” and “green computing” for the NORAD Tracks Santa program led to the 2012 NDAA provision directing the DoD CIO to develop a plan to maximize use of “cloud computing” capabilities from the private sector.

In terms of languages at the multi-lingual NORAD Tracks Santa website, for the 2011 NORAD Tracking Santa season Brazilian Portuguese became the eighth language, rejoining the other seven languages of English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.[129] Is it a coincidence that this occurs with Brazil hosting the 2014 FIFA (Soccer) World Cup ?

New for the 2011 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa program had free official mobile apps available in the Apple iTunes Store and in the Android Market. [129] These free NORAD Tracks Santa iTunes and Android apps by Visionbox, Inc. enabled one to watch the days countdown to Santa's flight, follow Santa's progress on December 24, play "Elf Toss" to help Santa's elves deliver presents, and learn about NORAD and its mission.

In December 2011, the NORAD Tracks Santa program expanded its multiple social media presence to Google+. [129]

NORAD Tracks Santa was on the front-page of the USA Today on Friday, 23 December 2011.

The Santa Cam videos on 24 December 2011 emphasized: 1) Learning about geography (a passion of Google's head of Google Earth and Google Maps, Brian McClendon and Google's champion of the NORAD Tracks Santa program), 2) environmental awareness (as seen with the Santa Cam video on the Amazon rainforest as well as the scenic natural wonders in the other Santa Cam video in 2011), 3) what NORAD is doing in terms of aerospace warning, aerospace defense, and maritime awareness as well as the role of the various NORAD regions and defense sectors.

Of the 28 videos of Santa Cam locations, 13 were new locations for the NORAD Tracks Santa program and 4 more were locations returning after an absence of a year or more. This was record number of changes. NORAD and Google are determined to avoid repeating the impact from AOL 2005 - 2006 "Era of Stagnation" which caused most (85 % plus) of the NORAD Tracks Santa website videos to feature the same Santa Cam locations from one year to the next.

Patric Covey from Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA organizes and hosts a 15 hour live video blog show on NORAD Tracking Santa on Christmas Eve of 2011. [130] Link to full size video

The NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube fan community conducted a 15 hour live video blog on Christmas Eve of 2011 that Patric Covey of Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA hosted for a third year in a row at this video blog webpage of Blog TV Tracking Santa Webpage that had 5,000 plus viewers. [130]

First Lady Obama - NTS - 24 Dec 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama talks to a child Saturday as part of the annual NORAD Tracks Santa program. Mrs. Obama answered the phone calls from Kailua, Hawaii. Photo by Pete Souze / White House flickr

For the 2011 NORAD Tracking season, the First Lady of the Unites States of America, Mrs. Michelle Obama once again served as a NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center volunteer. She took calls for 42 minutes and spoke with children from several families. [131] [132]  The same day, the White House Office of Communications released transcripts of “Remarks by The First Lady to Children While Tracking Santa with NORAD on 24 December 2011” between 1100 hrs Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HST) to 1142 hrs HST on 24 December 2011.

As the 2011 NORAD Tracks Santa season came to a close, the devoted fans of the NORAD Tracks Santa program continue to gather and publish information, as well as fan information, about the NORAD Tracks Santa program from 1955 to the present on YouTube, Wikis, Wikipedia, video blogs, and other places on the internet. This season we received a contribution of the Year 2000 NORAD Tracks Santa program Santa Cam videos and interview videos from Lt.Col.(Retired) Jamie Robertson, CD.


Impact of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program

Thanks to the NORAD Tracks Santa program, children and the young at heart world-wide receive updates of Santa’s location on Christmas Eve that are accurate, timely, and prefaced by holiday-themed entertainment throughout December at the NORAD Tracks Santa website and thru Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, and TroopTube.tv.[133] Photo album information on the NORAD Tracks Santa program is available at its Flickr page directly [10] or thru the NORAD Tracks Santa program Facebook page's Flickr tab [11], or directly at its Picasa page [12].

The NORAD Tracks Santa program has the Space Foundation's "seal of approval" under their Space Certification Program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category [13] [14].[1] [2] [3] NORAD and the NORAD Tracks Santa Program were cited specifically by the Space Foundation as follows, "NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft. Not only do these systems utilize a variety technology developed for the space program, but the tradition of tracking Santa's progress itself inspires children around the world to think about how space technology and exploration play an increasingly important role in our daily lives." [4] Also, according to Brian McClendon, Engineering Director for Google Earth and Google Maps in his December 2008 interview with the BBC News on NORAD Tracks Santa and Google, the NORAD Tracks Santa program teaches children and the young at heart important lessons on geography. [134]

Finally, according to Joe Suarez, Booz Allen Executive Advisor, Community Partnerships and Philanthropy, “NORAD Tracks Santa is more than just a holiday classic that brings joy to children. Through today’s fun and interactive Web site, children can learn about tracking technology and science concepts that can inspire them to dream higher than the stars for their own future. Studies show that U.S. colleges and universities are only graduating about 9,000 computer science students a year, and this program is one simple way to inspire more young people to answer the call for careers in technology fields.”[135] [136]

Consequently, the NORAD Tracks Santa program enables NORAD to positively reinforce its “brand recognition” world-wide as the protector and defender of North America, as it successfully accomplishes its daily and on-going missions of aerospace (which includes outer space) warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America. [137] [138]


Statistical Summary from 1996 to Present of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program

While statistics and type of media presence do not tell the entire story of the impact that the NORAD Tracks Santa program has had world-wide, this table provides a quick summary of the growth in the NORAD Tracks Santa program in serving children and the young at heart world-wide.

Statistical Summary from 1996 to Present of the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Program
Year Nr of Volunteers at the NTS Op Ctr Nr of Telephone Calls Answered Nr of E-mail Messages Answered Nr of Languages at NTS Website Nr of NTS Website Hits Nr of NTS Website Visitors
1996 [33] Not Available 15,000 Pre-NTS Website Pre-NTS Website Pre-NTS Website Pre-NTS Website
1997 [39] [38] Not Available 17,000 Not Available 1 20 million Not Available
1998 [39] [41] [34] Not Available 25,000 Not Available 5 28 million 3 million
1999 [41] [54] 82 7,000 Not Available 6 52 million 10 million
2000 [55] [58] 100 Not Available Not Available 6 100 million Not Available
2001 [60] [61] 150 7,000 Not Available 6 289 million Not Available
2002 [63] 375 27,000 37,000 6 294.5 million Not Available
2003 [45] 400 49,229 60,000 6 577 million 9 million plus
2004 [71] 360 55,000 50,000 6 912 million Not Available
2005 [73] 550 52,000 103,156 6 907,958,865 Not Available
2006 [81] 800 85,000 96,000 6 1 billion (estimate) Not Available
2007 [88] 1,012 94,743 10,326 6 Not Available 10.6 million plus
2008 [95] 1,200 73,872 6,086 7 Not Available 15,828,663
2009 [103] 1,200 Plus 74,000 3,500 7 Not Available 13 million
2010 [112] 1,200 Plus 80,456 7,023 7 Not Available 15,476,016
2011 [139] [140] 1,200 Plus 102,000 7,721 8 Not Available 18.9 million

Legend: 1) NTS is NORAD Tracks Santa. 2) Op Ctr is Operations Center. 3) Nr is Number.


For an explanation of website hits and website visits, the Wikipedia article on web analytics is a good start point.


Statistical Summary from 2008 to Present of the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Program
on Facebook and Twitter
Year as of End of December Nr of Facebook Fans Nr of Twitter Followers
2008 [141] Not Available less than 3,000
2009 [103] 410,700 27,440
2010 [112] 715,000 53,000
2011 [139] [140] 997,000 101,000

Legend: Nr is Number.


Google Analytics has been in use since the 2007 NORAD Tracks Santa season to analyze traffic at the NORAD Tracks Santa website. As a result of this analysis information, the NORAD Tracks Santa program can project and scale volunteer staffing, telephone equipment, and computer equipment needs for the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center on Christmas Eve. For the NORAD Tracks Santa website itself, the analysis information, such as browser and connection speed data, is used to: 1) optimize the website layout, and 2) decide which games on the Coundown Village webpage are popular and are to be kept for another year, and those games that need replacement due to low usage.[92]

In December 2007, the NORAD Tracks Santa website had almost 11 million visits with visitors from 212 countries and territories. The majority of the visitor traffic for the the NORAD Tracks Santa website was from the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), and Canada.[92]

NTS Map Overlay 24 Dec 2007

Source of NORAD Tracks Santa Website Visitors in December 2007 - Darker Green Countries Represent More Visitors

With the NORAD Tracks Santa program having grown to 27,440 twitter followers by December 25, 2009, after starting a twitter presence in the 2008 NORAD tracking Santa season, and with the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Facebook fan page growing to more than 410,700 fans by December 2009, there was less need for the older types of e-mail messages during the 2008 and 2009 NORAD tracking Santa seasons. [103] In addition, OnStar subscribers on the move in their vehicles on Christmas Eve from the 2009 NORAD tracking Santa season onward, were able to push the blue OnStar button to get status reports on Santa's whereabouts.[105]

NORAD's Description of its Four Santa Claus Tracking Systems

NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets.[15][100]


NORAD's Four (4) Santa Claus Tracking Systems
NORADCommandCenter.jpg
Tracking System 1 - North Warning System - Radar
NTS satelite santa.jpg
Tracking System 2 - Satellite Network
NTS Santa Cam.jpg
Tracking System 3 - Santa Cam Network
NTS Santa Jet Fighter Escort.jpg
Tracking System 4 - NORAD Jet Fighters and Santa Claus Escort
Main article: About NORAD - How We Track Santa


NORAD Tracks Santa Program Growth Across Traditional Media, Mobile Media, and Social Media

The NORAD Tracks Santa program has always made use of a variety of media. In the 1950's thru 1996, these media were the telephone hotline, radio, television, newspapers, and phonograph records (or "vinyl records"). From 1997 to the present, the NORAD Tracks Santa program has had a highly publicized internet and web presence. As mobile media and social media have become popular and widespread as methods of direct communication, these newer types of media have been embraced by the NORAD Tracks Santa program, so that children and the young at heart world-wide will have up to the minute information of Santa's Christmas Eve journey and countdown activities during December.[142] [143]


NORAD Tracks Santa Program Expansion by Type of Media

While type of media presence does not tell the entire story of the impact that the NORAD Tracks Santa program has had world-wide, this table provides a quick summary of the growth in media presence by the NORAD Tracks Santa program, from 1955 to the present, in serving children and the young at heart world-wide.


NORAD Tracks Santa Program Expansion by Type of Media
Type of Media Presence Year Presence Started
Telephone Hotline [8] 1955
(Toll Free in the USA and Canada from 2002 to Present) [64]
Newspaper, Radio, and Television [19] 1956
Website on the Internet [34] 1997
YouTube [91] 2007
iTunes [98] [100] 2008
Smartphone [98] 2008
Twitter [89] [97] 2008
Facebook [103] [14] [104] 2009
Flickr [103] [14] [104] 2009
Picasa [103] [14] [104] 2009
OnStar [144] 2009
Google+ [111] 2011


NORAD Tracks Santa Program on Twitter

The NORAD Tracks Santa program Twitter [15] following grew to 27,440 twitter followers by December 25, 2009, after starting a twitter presence in the 2008 NORAD tracking Santa season and having only 3,100 twitter followers in early December 2009. [103] [141] [145] As of December 22, 2010 the NORAD Tracks Santa program had 28,113 twitter followers.


NORAD Tracks Santa - Twitter

NORAD Tracks Santa on Twitter in December 2010


NORAD Tracks Santa Program on Facebook

Thanks to a well organized social media campaign, The NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Facebook fan page [16] grew to more than 410,700 fans by late December 2009 from only 3,000 fans at the start of December 2009. [103] [141] As of December 22, 2010 the NORAD Tracks Santa program had 456,867 Facebook fans. The NORAD Tracks Santa program had more than 470,000 “likes” on Facebook in December 2010. [122]


NORAD Tracks Santa - Facebook

NORAD Tracks Santa on Facebook in December 2010


NORAD Tracks Santa Program on Google+

In December 2011, the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Google+ page [17] was first featured. On 3 December 2011, the NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Google+ page featured 73 people people having NORAD Tracks Santa in their circles.


NORAD Tracks Santa - GooglePlus

NORAD Tracks Santa on Google+ in December 2011


Mobile Media

Smartphones

Since the 2008 NORAD Tracks Santa season, smartphone and many other mobile device users are able to track Santa on Google Maps for Mobile obtained via a mobile-optimized site (m.noradsanta.org) or by searching for "Santa" on Google Maps for Mobile. [98] [99] After loading Google Maps for Mobile on a mobile device, the current location for Santa Claus is found by searching for "Santa", similar to using a query for "pizza" to find pizza places, or "San Antonio" to find that city on a map. [99]


Using Smartphones to see NORAD Tracks Santa on Christmas Eve
NORAD Tracks Santa - Smartphone - iPhone.jpg
Using an iPhone to see NORAD Tracks Santa on Christmas Eve. [133]
NORAD Tracks Santa - Smartphone - Android.png
Using an Android to see NORAD Tracks Santa on Christmas Eve. [146]

OnStar

2009 OnStar Video News Release - OnStar's Partnership with Santa and the NORAD Tracks Santa Program. Link to full size video

Starting with the 2009 NORAD Tracks Santa season, beginning at 6:00 a.m. EST on December 24 on Christmas Eve, drivers with an active OnStar subscription are able to press the blue OnStar button in their vehicles and request a "Santa Update." From there, an OnStar advisor shares Santa’s whereabouts based on location information provided by the NORAD Tracks Santa program. The advisors receive a new update from NORAD every hour and are able to inform subscribers of Santa’s location through 5 a.m. EST on December 25 of Christmas Day. [144] Santa Claus himself was equipped by the OnStar Command Center with the Star Duster 5000 sleigh. Santa’s custom OnStar services with the Star Duster 5000 sleigh include: Reindeer Health Diagnostics to keep him abreast of the reindeers’ hunger and energy levels, Hands-Free Calling to allow him to keep his hands on the reigns, if Mrs. Claus is calling to check up on him, and eyes-on-the-sky and Turn-By-Turn Navigation directions to help route him to the homes of the good little boys and girls around the world. [147]

Not to be left behind by the NORAD Tracks Santa effort and OnStar, the GLONASS Tracks Father Frost effort and GLONASS in 2009 equipped Father Frost’s sledge and other vehicles at his residence in the town of Veliky Ustyug in Vologda Oblast, Russia with GLONASS navigation systems.[148] [114] See article section GLONASS Tracks Father Frost for 2009 for more information.


NORAD Tracks Santa Website

The layout of the NORAD Tracks Santa website and its webpages have changed from 1997 to the present. Reasons are due to changes: 1) in internet and web technologies, and 2) as to who the NORAD Tracks Santa program partners and sponsors are for a particular year.


Homepage

Typically from early January (Epiphany or "Three Kings Day") thru November 30 (though for the 2012 season it is 27 December 2011 to at least 30 November 2012), when one arrives at the NORAD Tracks Santa website, one is greeted with a webpage to come back in December to track Santa with NORAD. In some years, one is also told that for more information about NORAD's mission, to go to NORAD's website [18] and to NORAD's Facebook [19].


NTS - 2012 Splash - Dec Return

NORAD Tracks Santa Website Splash from 27 December 2011 thru 30 November 2012


NTS - Splash - 1 Dec Return

2011 NORAD Tracks Santa Website Splash from early January 2011 thru 30 November 2011


During December, when one arrives at the NORAD Tracks Santa website, one is first asked to select one of these eight (8) languages - English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, or Spanish.


NORAD-Tracks-Santa-website-2011-Language Selection

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Language Selection Webpage of 2011


Once a language is selected, a homepage in the chosen language appears. During December, this homepage will feature:

1) A toolbar of "Home", "Videos", "Track Santa in Google Earth", "Kids' Countdown", "About Santa", "About NORAD", and "Contact Us".
2) For 2009 and 2010, a weblink to download iGoogle Gadget in order to add "NORAD Tracks Santa" to one's iGoogle page.
3) A weblink to follow NORAD tracking Santa on Facebook[20], on Google+ page [21], and Twitter [22].
4) For 2009 and 2010, a weblink to see a gallery of NORAD Tracks Santa program photos on Picassa [23].
5) From 1 December until Christmas Eve one sees these weblinks.
a) A weblink to play an embedded YouTube video trailer of the current NORAD Tracks Santa season.
b) A countdown display of the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds remaining until Santa's Christmas Eve journey begins.
c) A weblink to Santa's Kid's Countdown Village webpage at the NORAD Tracks Santa website.
d) For 2010 only, a weblink to the Colorado Springs School District 11 webpage at the NORAD Tracks Santa website (English language webpages only). See article Colorado Springs School District 11 for more information.
e) Starting in 2011, weblinks to the Apple iTunes Store and the Android Market, in order to obtain free apps that countdown the days until Santa's takeoff on Christmas Eve
6) From Christmas Eve onward, the Pre-Christmas Eve weblinks are replaced with a NORAD Tracks Santa interactive a two-dimensional (2-D) Santa tracking map and a "NORAD Santa Tracker Tips and Tricks" weblink.


NORAD Tracks Santa - Homepage - Pre-Xmas - 2011

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Pre-Christmas Eve English Homepage of 2011


NORAD Tracks Santa - Homepage - Pre-Xmas - 2010

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Pre-Christmas Eve English Homepage of 2010

Countdown Village

Kids' Countdown Village Theme Music of 2010 Link to full size video

Since the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season, during December of each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa website features an interactive Kids' Countdown Village [24], with a display of the days remaining until Santa’s Christmas Eve flight will begin. The Countdown Village includes games and activities for children and the young at heart of all ages, such as crossword puzzles, interactive video games, and memory cards. For example, one game lets children help Santa stack presents efficiently on his sleigh so he can fit in as many as possible without any falling out. Another popular game is a create-a-snowman game, where children select eyes, a nose, mouth, and so on to build their own snowman. [149]


Kids Countdown Village - 2011

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Kids' Countdown Village Webpage of 2011


Kids Countdown Village - 2010

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Kids' Countdown Village Webpage of 2010


During December at the Countdown Village, are daily changing "Hot Updates" from the North Pole.

In 2011, music in Countdown Village is provided by the U.S. Air Force Academy Band [25], the Canadian Naden Band of the Maritime Forces Pacific [26], the U.S. Coast Guard Band [27], the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Band [28], and the West Point Band [29].[111]

In 2011, there were 23 games in Countdown Village, with a new overall Countdown Village music theme. A game would become active on its designated countdown day to Santa's flight on 24 December. Most of the games would feature its own music. The 2011 Countdown Village games were:

Games Becoming Avilable during Each Day of December 2011 at Countdown Village
Day of December Game Game Music Theme
1 Christmas Tree Light Up. (Connect wires and bulbs of Christmas Tree)
2 Whack a Grinch ! (Grinch pop's up in slots. So do other characters - points off if other characters are whacked)
3 Arrange Christmas Decorations in a Row (3 or more of the same color)
4 Winter Wonderland Media Player (USAF Air Academy Band) - KSNO (North Pole Radio Station)
5 Santa Bureau of Investigation (SBI) - Match Cards
6 Snowball Warrior (Throw snowballs at moving people)
7 Holiday Wordscramble (Unscramble words)
8 Santa Packing Inc. (Rotate, Slide, and Stak presents into vertical lines)
9 Christams Crossword
10 Holiday Tic Tac Toe
11 Santa Hoops (Santa Throwing Basketballs into moving Basket)
12 Santa's Bakery (Move the spoon and try and catch the gingerbread man'sred gumdrop button. Gumdrop button on string with spoon.)
13 Find all the words from the word bank in the puzzle box
14 Snowman Skiing (Pick up parts to complete Snowman)
15 Elf Link (Explore Cities and Towns Around the World with Holiday Themed Names. Llinks to Google Maps with Holiday Themed named bookmarks)
16 Mrs. Claus Chitsmas Alphabet Soup Kitchen (Type as many letters as you can in a specified time)
17 Ornament Collection Center (Elf Collect Christmas Ornaments - Use Arrow Keys)
18 Toy Land (Click on Puzzle and unscramble the scrambled image parts)
19 Christmas Putt and Play (Golf Game to Green - 3 Shots to Make Hole in One)
20 Christmas Bounce (Get Bouncing Christmas Ornaments from Box to Christmas Tree using Pillow. Otherwise Ornaments break.)
21 Cookie Shack (Place Puzzle parts on Board to Solve Puzzle)
22 Top Secret NORAD File: "Operation Ho, Ho, Ho" - Santa Sled Specs (Displays information on Santa's Sleigh and Reindeer)
23 North Pole International Airport - Santa's Sleigh Radar (Remember Order of radar quadrants, then click the quadrants in the same order)


Two-Dimensional (2-D) Santa Tracking Map and Christmas Eve Onward Homepage

During December and before December 24 (Christmas Eve), the NORAD Tracks Santa website's interactive a two-dimensional (2-D) Santa tracking map tab [30] is not visible. If one links directly to the two-dimensional (2-D) Santa tracking map webpage, one sees the following:


NORAD Tracks Santa - 2D Map - Dec 2010 Before Xmas Eve

Two-Dimensional (2-D) Santa Tracking Map in December before Christmas Eve


Starting on December 24 for Christmas Eve, the NORAD Tracks Santa website homepage features an interactive a two-dimensional (2-D) Santa tracking map [31], showing in real-time the places that Santa has visited and if the visited location has a Santa Cam. This is shown on the map with "gift icons" for the places that Santa has visited and "video icons" for the places visited had a Santa Cam. [14][133] Since 2007, this two-dimensional (2-D) Santa tracking map has used Google Maps capabilities and technology. Google provides a weblink to "NORAD Santa Tracker Tips and Tricks", from the NORAD Tracks Santa website homepage, in order to help visitors navigate this feature. [150]

At the start Christmas Eve on 24 December, from about 0200 hrs (Eastern Time) to 0400 hrs (Eastern Time) one sees Santa Claus at the North Pole going thru final preparation activity on both the Tracking map and when you use the link to Google Earth.


NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Santa Claus at the North Pole - Tracking Map - Google Earth - Final preparation Activity on Christmas Eve
NORAD Tracks Santa - Tracking Map - North Pole.jpg
Santa Claus at the North Pole - Tracking Map - Final preparation Activity on Christmas Eve
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth - North Pole.jpg
Santa Claus at the North Pole - Google Earth - Final preparation Activity on Christmas Eve


Gift icon on Map: When one clicks on a gift icon on the map, pop-up information about that location is displayed, to include a photo, along with links to obtain additional information from Wikipedia, obtain additional photos of the selected location from Panoramio, and a link to zoom in on the selected location.

Video icon on Map: When one clicks on a video icon on the map, a pop-up with a Santa Cam video and information about that location are displayed, along with links to obtain additional information from Wikipedia, and a link to zoom in on the selected location.


NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Two-Dimensional (2-D) Santa Tracking Map Webpage with Video Icon and Gift Icon Displays
NORAD Tracks Santa - Track Map.jpg
Two-Dimensional (2-D) Santa Tracking Map
NORAD Tracks Santa - Track Map - Video Icon.jpg
Video Icon Pop-Up on Santa Tracking Map
NORAD Tracks Santa - Track Map - Gift Icon.jpg
Gift Icon Pop-Up on Santa Tracking Map


At the end of Santa Claus's journey, the NORAD Tracks Santa Tracking Map webpage shows the following:


NORAD Tracks Santa - Tracking Map - End of Journey

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Tracking Map Webpage at end of Santa Claus' journey


Track Santa in Google Earth Webpage

During December and before December 24 (Christmas Eve), the NORAD Tracks Santa website's "Track Santa in Google Earth" [32] webpage shows this message, "Track in Google Earth - In addition to tracking Santa on the NORAD Tracks Santa homepage, you can also track his flight in Google Earth. Return to this page on Christmas Eve."


NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth - 2010 Before Xmas Eve

Tracking Santa in Google Earth Message in December before Christmas Eve


If one's computer does not have Google Earth installed this additional message is shown "Google Earth is not installed on your computer. Download it by clicking the button below."


NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth - 2010 Before Xmas Eve - GE Download

Tracking Santa in Google Earth Message in December before Christmas Eve with request to download Google Earth


On Christmas Eve, this webpage called "Track Santa in Google Earth" [33] becomes available. This webpage enables one to follow Santa's journey in real-time using Google Earth's immersive three-dimensional (3-D) environment directly within one's web browser, after installing the Google Earth plug-in.[95][105][106] While one was able to use Google Earth's capabilities starting with the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season to track Santa, it was only starting with the 2009 NORAD Tracking Santa season that one could use Google Earth's immersive three-dimensional (3-D) environment directly within one's web browser. [151]


Once Santa Claus departs the North Pole on his Christmas Eve journey, Santa Claus will be in two (2) modes: 1) Journeying to a gift delivery point, or 2) Delivering gifts so fast that all you see is a series of red streaks. [152]


NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Google Earth
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth - On Way to Delivery Point.jpg
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth - Santa on the way to a gift delivery point
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth - Delivering Gifts.jpg
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth - Santa in the process of delivering gifts


Using the Google Earth Navigation Globe and one’s computer mouse (see Advanced features and tutorials: Navigating on Google Earth), one can change the orientation of Santa Claus and his sleigh while on his Christmas Eve journey and also “zoom in” for a close-up.


NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Google Earth
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth – Front-Orientation.jpg
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth – Orientation of Santa Claus and his Sleigh from the Front. [122]
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth – Close-Up.jpg
NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth – Close-up of Santa Claus. [122]


After Santa Claus' stops in Hawaii and on his return journey to the North Pole, one sees on the the Track Santa in Google Earth Webpage, that he has delivered 1,900,000,000 (1.9 billion) gifts to children and families across the world.


At the end of Santa Claus' journey, the NORAD Tracks Santa Google Earth webpage shows the following:


NORAD Tracks Santa - Google Earth - End of Journey

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Google Earth Webpage at end of Santa Claus' journey

Santa Cam Videos Webpage

A popular webpage on Christmas Eve is the Videos webpage [34], that is updated generally each hour, to show a Santa Cam video of a CGI-rendered Santa flying over major cities in the different time zones where it is midnight. The videos feature a voiceover, that is typically done by NORAD staff, explaining Santa's location with facts about Santa and the country and city which Santa has just visited.[133] Starting with the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season, YouTube capabilities have been used at the Santa Cam Videos Webpage.


NTS Santa Cam

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Santa Cam Videos Webpage


In December 2011, prior to Christmas Eve, the Videos webpage featured the NORAD Tracks Santa Trailer and a link to the the NORADTracksSanta Channel on YouTube.

NTS Videos Page - Dec 2011 - Pre-Xmas

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Videos Webpage - Decemebr 2011 before Christmas Eve


In December 2010, prior to Christmas Eve, the Videos webpage featured the NORAD Tracks Santa Trailer and, for the English language webpages, a link to the Holiday Videos webpage that has invited student videos from around the world. See article Holiday Videos from Around the World for more information.


NTS Videos Page - Dec 2010 - Pre-Xmas

NORAD Tracks Santa Website - Videos Webpage - Decemebr 2010 before Christmas Eve


Other Webpages at the NORAD Tracks Santa Website

Other webpages available during December at the NORAD Tracks Santa website are:

1) the "About Santa" webpages [35] (for 2011 this includes sending personalized video messages from Santa Claus at the North Pole), that cover Is Santa Real ?", Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)", and "Santa Snacks".
2) the "About NORAD" webpages [36], that cover the "North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)", "Why NORAD Tracks Santa, and "How NORAD Tracks Santa", and new in 2011, for the English language webpages, "Operation Good Will".
3) the "Contact Us" [37] webpages, that cover "Technical Support", the "Team of NORAD Tracks Santa Partners",for the current tracking season, and "Media Information and Contacts".
4) For 2010 only, for the English language webpages, the Colorado Springs School District 11 [38] webpage at the NORAD Tracks Santa website.
5) From 2010 on, for the English language webpages, the invited Holiday Videos from Around the World [39] webpage at the NORAD Tracks Santa website.

In past years, primarily from 2000 thru 2006, the NORAD Tracks Santa website featured downloadable files such as: printable world maps to help track Santa's progress, Christmas puzzles and games, coloring pages, bookmarks, wallpaper, NORAD Tracks Santa trailer video clips, celebrity audio and video messages, and Christmas music and holiday season music from the U.S. Air Force Academy Band [40], the U.S. Air Force Band of the Rockies (which since October 1, 2003 is now the Marching Band of the U.S. Air Force Academy Band, and from 1973 to 2003 was the band assigned to Headquarters, Air Force Space Command, also located in Colorado Springs) [41], the Naden Band of the Canadian Maritime Forces Pacific [42], The Gaither Vocal Band, Linda Purl, Ringo Starr, the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America [43], the Royal Canadian Artillery Band [44], and others.[78]

Main article: NORAD Tracks Santa - Downloads
Main article: NORAD Tracks Santa - Holiday Music - 2000 - 2005
Main article: Colorado Springs School District 11
Main article: Holiday Videos from Around the World
Main article: About NORAD - Operation Good Will


Santa Cam and Related Videos for NORAD Tracks Santa

The NORAD Tracks Santa website Videos webpage is updated, generally each hour, to show a Santa Cam video of a CGI-rendered Santa flying over major cities in the different time zones where it is midnight. The videos feature a voiceover, that is typically done by NORAD staff, explaining Santa's location with facts about Santa and the country and city which Santa has just visited.[133]

Celebrity voiceovers have also been done over the years. For the London Santa Cam video, British celebrity and television presenter Jonathan Ross did the voiceover for 2005 thru 2007 and the former Beatle star Ringo Starr was an honorary Santa Tracker and voiceover for London in 2003 and 2004.[68][153] Paul Harvey was also an honorary Santa Tracker and did the voiceover for the St. Louis, Missouri Santa Cam in 2003. In 2002, Aaron Carter was an honorary Santa Tracker and provided voice updates about Santa's whereabouts as he helped NORAD track Santa's progress on Christmas Eve in 2002.[66] The Santa Cam locations announced by Aaron Carter for the 2002 NORAD Tracks Santa season were: 1) Auckland, New Zealand, 2) Athens,Greece, and 3) Colorado Springs.

The locations of some of the Santa Cam videos have changed over the years. In 2009, a record 28 Santa Cam videos were posted at the NORAD Tracks Santa website's Videos webpage. In other years, generally 24 to 25 Santa Cam videos were posted at the NORAD Tracks Santa website's Videos webpage.

Main article: NORAD Tracks Santa Videos


Celebrity Video and Audio Messages for NORAD Tracks Santa

As part of celebrating the fiftieth (50th) tracking season of NORAD's annual tracking of Santa Claus in 2004, the NORAD Tracks Santa website featured many celebrity video and audio messages.[154] [155]

The 2005 and 2006 tracking seasons of NORAD Tracking Santa also featured many celebrity video messages at the NORAD Tracks Santa website. These celebrity video messages were prepared in conjunction with NORAD's participation in the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade in 2005 and 2006.[77] [72]

Main article: Celebrity Audio and Video Messages


Corporate Sponsorship and Partners for the NORAD Tracks Santa Program

Overview

The NORAD Tracks Santa program is funded through generous contributions from partners. Everything from computer servers, web site design, video imaging, Santa’s tracking map, and telecom services are donated by partner companies and individual sponsors.

The NORAD Tracks Santa program is managed by the NORAD and the United States Northern Command Public Affairs Office at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

The roster of partners for the NORAD Tracks Santa program has changed over the years with changes in technologies and their associated marketplaces, along with changes in organizations as to their being able and willing to commit to a successful sponsorship and partnership with the NORAD Tracks Santa program for a particular year. NORAD Tracks Santa partners include a variety of large (including international) organizations and local to Colorado based organizations. Typically work on the part of NORAD and their partners starts before the summer in order to be ready by December.[156] All the organizations and volunteers who help make this global NORAD Tracks Santa program possible do so at no cost to the American and Canadian taxpayers.[34][14][9]

History

Video of representatives from the NORAD Tracks Santa program and some of the partners from Google, Booz Allen Hamilton and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, who help sponsor the NORAD Tracks Santa Program, joined together at the NYSE alongside the one and only Santa from Macy’s to get people geared up to track Santa as he makes his yuletide journey. In honor of the occasion, they rang The Closing Bell on Dec. 20, 2010.[121]

In 2011, returning partners for NORAD Tracks Santa included Google, Booz Allen Hamilton, Globelink - Foreign Language Center [45], Air Canada, Verizon, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Colorado Springs School District 11, PCI Broadband [46], Naturally Santa Inc. [47], First Choice Awards and Gifts [48], AGI (Analytical Graphics, Inc.), Avaya, Toys for Tots, Meshbox [49], OnStar by GM, tw telecom, the Newseum, Xtomic [50], the U.S. Air Force Academy Band [51], the U.S. Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System, the Canadian Naden Band of the Maritime Forces Pacific [52], and the Space Foundation. [111] Booz Allen Hamilton (a major supporter of both the NORAD Tracks Santa Program and the Toys for Tots campaigns), helped facilitate Toys for Tots becoming a corporate sponsor of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program in 2010.[135]

New partners in 2011 included: Acuity Scheduling [53], Big Fish Worldwide [54], Carousel Industries [55], the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council [56], General Electric, the National Tree Lighting Ceremony, RadiantBlue Technologies Inc. [57], thunderbaby studios [58], the U.S. Coast Guard Band [59], the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Band [60], Visionbox [61], and the West Point Band [62], and UGroup Media [63]. [111]

2009 - NTS Partners

Recognition placard of the NORAD Tracks Santa Partners and Corporate Sponsors on Christmas Eve of 2009 at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center.

Other Partners

NORAD Tracks Santa Program Partners and Supporters over the Years
NTS 2010 – Air Canada.jpg
Members of NORAD and Air Canada teamed up on Dec. 15, 2010 to offer NORAD Tracks Santa goody bags to passengers flying Air Canada from Denver to Toronto. Pictured are Canadian Navy Lt. Desmond James and an Air Canada representative getting ready to hand out the bags to Air Canada passengers.
Citadel Mall - Santa Tracking Station Opening - 17 Nov 2005 - 112105 hi - V2.jpg
Lt.-Gen. Rick Findley, deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and Robert Taylor, senior property manager at Citadel Mall, perform the ceremonial ribbon cutting during the Nov. 18, 2005 launch of the Citadel Mall's Santa Tracking Station.
NEADS - NORAD - Xmas - 2008-12-21 - 081217-F-5900D-2104.jpg
Two members of the Northeast Air Defense Sector prepare to track Santa using their high-tech radar equipment in December 2008.
NORAD - Canada - Santa Radar Tracking Dec 2007.jpg
Col Pierre Ruel and BGen Christian Barabé check the radar screen during December 2007 in preparation for tracking Santa Claus for Canadian Forces working with NORAD.
Wea01250.jpg
The Christmas issue of NOAA's Weather Bureau Topics with "Santa Claus" streaking across a weather radar screen, 1958.

In addition to the NORAD Tracks Santa partners listed at the NORAD Tracks Santa website and mentioned in NORAD Public Affairs press releases, numerous other organizations and corporations assisted in mounting the NORAD Santa Tracking program over the years, among them Rocky Mountain PBS, Citadel Mall, the 721st Security Forces Squadron [64], the 721st Communications Squadron [65] and several hotels, including the Sheraton, Embassy Suites, Radisson, and The Broadmoor.[157] All the U.S. military services and components (Active, National Guard, and Reserve) have supported the NORAD Tracks Santa program over the years, either in terms of publicity, or in the case of the Northeast Air Defense Sector of the New York Air National Guard or the U.S. Naval Reserve Navy Information Bureau (NIB) 1118 at Fort Carson, Colorado, direct support of the NORAD Tracks Santa program.[158] [159] Other U.S. federal agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have supported the NORAD Tracks Santa program over the years with publicity and satellite tracking support.[160] [161] [162] [163] [164] [165] [166] [167] [168] [169] See article NOAA Helps NORAD Track Santa for more information.

The Canadian Forces have been equally supportive of the NORAD Tracks Santa program.[83] [170] See article Canadian NORAD Region and the Canadian Contributions to the NORAD Tracks Santa Program for more information.

Santa Interplanetary Christmas

Santa delivering presents throughout the solar system in the later part of the 21st Century. [171]

During December from 1998 thru 2008, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center hosted a competing Santa tracker on one its webpages. See article NASA Tracks Santa for more information. NASA is also interested in tracking Santa, when later in the 21st Century, Santa will be delivering presents throughout the entire solar system. [172]

Starting with the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa program received recognition from the Space Foundation with their "seal of approval" under their Space Certification Program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category [66] [67], for having increased interest in and excitement for space by children and the young at heart world-wide.[1] [2] NORAD and the NORAD Tracks Santa Program were cited specifically by the Space Foundation as follows, "NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft. Not only do these systems utilize a variety of technologies developed for the space program, but the tradition of tracking Santa's progress itself inspires children around the world to think about how space technology and exploration play an increasingly important role in our daily lives." [4]


2007 to Present - Web 2.0 - The Google and Booz-Allen Hamilton Alliance Era

NORAD Tracks Santa Partner Role Partner(s)
Hosting Services Google
Social Media campaign consulting services, and NORAD Tracks Santa program coordination consulting services [141] [149] [173] [135] Booz Allen Hamilton
Website Design [141] [149] [173] [135] Booz Allen Hamilton (2007 - 2009), Xtomic (2010 to present)
Analysis software for land, sea, air, and space and global videos of Santa Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI)
3-D Toon Santa [174] Meshbox
Communications Engineering and Services Avaya, Qwest (2007-2008), PCI Broadband (2008 to present), tw telecom (2009 to present), UTDi (Unified TelData, Inc.) (2010), Carousel Industries (2011)
Toll Free Number 877-Hi-NORAD (877-446-6723 Verizon
Language Translation Globelink - Foreign Language Center
Food, Beverages, and Souvenir Tracking Pins for Volunteers at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center OnStar (2009 to present), AFBA 5Star Bank (2008 to 2010), Pepsi Distributing, and First Choice Awards and Gifts
E-mail to Santa Claus at the North Pole Official Santa Mail (2007) [79] and Canada Post (Canada's Post Office) [101] (2008)
Personalized video messages from Santa Claus at the North Pole UGroup Media (Portable North Pole) [111] (2011)


2000 to 2006 - Web 1.0 - The America On-Line (AOL) Era

NORAD Tracks Santa Partner Role Partner(s)
Hosting Services America Online, Inc. (AOL)
Reliable Delivery of Content over the Internet Akamai (2004) [69]
Website Design Tobey & Company (2000), Etheriel Web Publications (2001–2003), 24-7 Web Studio (2004), Ampersand Creative (2002–2003), Island Web Studios (2005–2006)
Analysis software for land, sea, air, and space and global videos of Santa Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI)
3-D Toon Santa [175] Meshbox (2005-2006)
Communications Engineering and Services ICG Communications (2004-2005), Qwest (2006)
Toll Free Number 877-Hi-NORAD (877-446-6723) WorldCom (2002), MCI (2003–2005), Verizon (2006)
Language Translation Globelink - Foreign Language Center
E-mail to Santa Claus at the North Pole Official Santa Mail (2005-2006) [79]
Blade PC's ClearCube (2004-2005) [176]


1998 to 1999 - The IBM and Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) Era

NORAD Tracks Santa Partner Role Partner(s)
Hosting Services IBM
Website Design, Analysis software for land, sea, air, and space, and Global videos of Santa Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI)
Language Translation Globelink International Services


1997 - The Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) Era

NORAD Tracks Santa Partner Role Partner(s)
Hosting Services MicroServe Information Systems (now PenTelData)
Website Design, Analysis software for land, sea, air, and space, and Global videos of Santa Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI)
Main article: Partners and Corporate Sponsors


Awards and Recognition

Over the years, the NORAD Tracks Santa program has received many awards for website excellence and for its successful efforts during the winter holidays season to: 1) entertain and enlighten children and the young-at-heart to the iconic symbol of Santa and the spirit of the holiday season, and 2) increase public awareness in North America and world-wide of NORAD as a highly competent, capable, and technologically "leading-edge" organization that is successful in carrying out its North American missions of Aerospace Warning, Aerospace Control, and Maritime Warning. [177]

In 1999, the NORAD Tracks Santa website and program received more than 45 international Internet awards for website excellence. In addition to several American awards, such as the USA Today Hotsite award, ABC News.Com Site of the Week, and the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Bronze Anvil Certificate of Commendation in 1999 for best website, awards were received from Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Japan. The worldwide recognition included the Medaille d’Or Award from France and the Web Academy Award from Britain -- two of the Internet’s most highly prized awards. [54]

Starting with the 2007 NORAD Tracking Santa season, the NORAD Tracks Santa program received recognition from the Space Foundation with their "seal of approval" under their Space Certification Program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category [68] [69] [70], for having increased interest in and excitement for space by children and the young at heart world-wide.[1] [2]

The NORAD Tracks Santa program won the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) 2009 Silver Anvil Award of Excellence for the 50th anniversary in 2008 of NORAD’s annual Tracking of Santa Claus (NORAD being the successor in 1958 to the U.S.-only CONAD annual Tracking of Santa Claus effort that started in 1955). The full category title of the PRSA 2009 Silver Anvil Award is “2009 Silver Anvil Award of Excellence Winner – Event and Observances – Seven or Fewer Days – Government” and the award title is “NORAD Tracks Santa: Keeping the Dream Alive.[102] The PRSA specifically cited NORAD for its use of the NORAD Tracks Santa program as an effective annual effort that “entertained and enlightened an entirely new generation to the iconic symbol of Santa and the spirit of the holiday season through a unique and collaborative public-private partnership” while it “reinforced its own brand recognition as protector/defender of North America.” [71] [102]


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Santa Claus is coming to town...track his flight with Certified Space Technology!, December 13, 2007" (in en). Space Foundation. http://www.spaceconnection.org/media/news-briefs/track-santa-certified-space-technology. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Certified Space Technology Reaches the North Pole, December 17, 2007" (in en). Space Foundation. http://www.spaceconnection.org/media/news-briefs/certified-space-technology-reaches-north-pole. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Certified Space Technology Reaches the North Pole, December 24, 2007, by Kendra S. Horn" (in en). Hawaii Reporter. http://www.hawaiireporter.com/story.aspx?141d187a-a5d0-47e0-b235-0609ae28f338. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "NORAD Tracks Santa - Citation - Space Certification Program as a Corporate Patron Level Partner in the Certified Imagination Product Category, December 2007" (in en). Space Foundation. http://www.spaceconnection.org/certified-products/norad-tracks-santa. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  5. "Follow Santa Claus, courtesy Google and NORAD, December 24, 2009" (in en). PhysOrg.com. http://www.physorg.com/news180877905.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  6. "Is There a Santa Claus?, Dec 1999 by NORAD Tracks Santa" (in en). NORAD. http://tobey.com/santa/english/istheresanta.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Secret Santa helper: First lady pitches in with NORAD by Dan Elliott, Associated Press, 24 Dec 2010" (in en). Associated Press and MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40803123/ns/us_news-life/. Retrieved 2010-12-25. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "North American Aerospace Defense Command - NORAD Tracks Santa" (in en). NORAD. http://www.norad.mil/about/Santa.html. Retrieved 2009-12-26. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "NORAD will track Santa's trip, Dec 24, 2007, by Tom Roeder, The Gazette (Colorado Springs)" (in en). The Gazette (Colorado Springs). http://www.gazette.com/news/santa-31212-command-tracking.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  10. "MSNBC Cosmic Log: Nov 26, 2005 - Dec. 2, 2005 - Cosmic Log - Santa Tracking Season, Nov 28, 2005 by Alan Boyle" (in en). msnbc.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10242485/ns/technology_and_science-science/. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  11. "NORAD helps children track Santa via iPhone, iPod touch, December 24, 2009 by Apple Insider Staff" (in en). Apple Insider. http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/12/24/norad_helps_children_track_santa_via_iphone_ipod_touch.html. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  12. "The NORAD Santa Tradition Continues with expanded Social Media presence - some history, 1 Dec 2009 by GISuser.com" (in en). GISUser.com. http://www.gisuser.com/content/view/19124/28/. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  13. "First Santa Tracker Misses This Flight, 24 Dec 2009 by Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief" (in en). AVWeb. http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/FirstSantaTrackerMissesThisFlight_201740-1.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 "Behind the scenes: NORAD's Santa tracker for Thur, Dec 21, 2009 By Daniel Terdiman, CNET" (in en). CNET. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-10418101-52.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 "Behind the scenes: NORAD's Santa tracker for Thur, Dec 24, 2009 By Daniel Terdiman, CNET" (in en). CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/12/24/cnet.norad.santa.tracker/. Retrieved 2009-12-26. 
  16. North American Air Defense Command. S. Claus files an Unusual Flight Plan. url: http://conelrad.com/media/norad_1.ram. Access Date: 2008-09-29.
  17. North American Air Defense Command. Early Warning Radars Acquire Track. 2008-09-29. url: http://conelrad.com/media/norad_2.ram. access date: 2008-09-29.
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