The offer Father santa tracker at the South National Aerospace Immunity Control are expecting for thousands of calls and messages when their functions center goes live on Christmas Eve.
The army base has been informing troubled children about Santa's location every season since 1955. That was the season a Co Rises newspapers ad welcomed children to call Father christmas on a hotline, but the number had a mistake, and many children have been talking to the Ls Aerospace Immunity Control, NORAD's forerunner.
The authorities on obligation played along and began discussing reports on Santa's progress. It's now a deep-rooted custom at NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canada command that screens the South National air and waters.
Last year, NORAD Tracks Santa volunteers answered 80,000 phone calls on Christmas Eve, said Joyce Creech, project leader.
"It's just so precious to hear the little sigh or breathing on the other end, and you realize how nervous they are," Creech said.
"But we've had really heart-wrenching stories as well," she said. "'Can you ask Santa to heal my brother of cancer?' Or, 'Can I get a new pair of shoes? I don't have any.'"
NORAD's Santa updates are just about everywhere — on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, its own website and on television. And this year, there's a new Santa-tracking app for smart phones. The app was downloaded more than 234,000 times from Android Market and iTunes App Store by mid-December, Creech said.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website has had more than 2.2 million unique visitors this year.
But the rows of telephones in the operations center are still the heart of the operation. More than 1,200 volunteers answer calls in shifts, checking big-screen computer monitors indicating Santa's location and passing that along to children, many who seem dumbstruck.
Creech said the rising numbers are probably a reflection of how much people look forward to the season, and how much of a tradition calling NORAD has become for many families.
"You can tell that it really brings people joy, and especially kids," she said.