December 25, 2012

NORAD says record number of calls to track Santa

Among the questions from children this year: "Is Santa real?" and "Does Santa leave presents for dogs?"

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Scobie, right, flanked by his son Andrew, and wife Janis, all taking phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, Colo., Monday Dec. 24, 2012. Over a thousand volunteers at NORAD handle more than 100,000 thousand phone calls from children around the world every Christmas Eve, with NORAD continually projecting Santa's supposed progress delivering presents. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

click image to enlarge

Volunteers take phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, Colo., Monday Dec. 24, 2012. Over a thousand volunteers at NORAD handle more than 100,000 thousand phone calls from children around the world every Christmas Eve, with NORAD continually projecting Santa's supposed progress delivering presents. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

"That's a closely guarded secret, and only Santa knows," Barr replied.

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TOYS IN HEAVEN: A boy who called from Missouri asked when Santa would drop off toys in heaven.

His mother got on the line and explained to Jennifer Eckels, who took the call, that the boy's younger sister died this year.

"He kept saying 'in heaven,'" Eckels said. She told him, "I think Santa headed there first thing."

___

BEST OF: Choice questions and comments wound up posted on a flip chart.

"Big sister wanted to add her 3-year-old brother to the naughty list," one read.

"Are there police elves?" said another.

"How much to adopt one of Santa's reindeer?"

"What's the best way to booby-trap the living room to trap Santa?"

"When you see Santa, tell him hello for me, I never see him."

"How does Santa make iPads?"

____

INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR: NORAD got calls from 220 countries and territories last year, and non-English-speakers called this year as well.

Volunteers who speak other languages get green Santa hats and a placard listing their languages so organizers can find them quickly.

"Need a Spanish speaker!" one organizer called as he rushed out of one of three phone rooms.

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HE KNOWS WHEN YOU'RE AWAKE: At NORAD's suggestion, volunteers often tell callers that Santa won't drop off the presents until all the kids in the home are asleep.

"Ohhhhhhh," said an 8-year-old from Illinois, as if trying to digest a brand-new fact.

"I'm going to be asleep by 4 o'clock," said a child from Virginia.

"Thank you so much for that information," said a grateful mom from Michigan.

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CHRISTMAS EVE IN AFGHANISTAN: Five U.S. service personnel answered calls from Afghanistan for about 90 minutes through a conferencing hookup.

"They had a great time," said Novobilski, the program spokeswoman.

NORAD wanted to set up a call center in Afghanistan but that proved too complex, she said.

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HEY, MR. ELF: "Mr. Elf," said one caller, "This is Adam, and I've been really good this year."

___

FOR GEARHEADS: For people who want to know the specs of Santa's sleigh, NORAD offers a trove of tidbits, including:

Weight at takeoff: 75,000 GD (gumdrops).

Propulsion: 9 RP (reindeer power).

Fuel: Hay, oats and carrots (for reindeer).

Emissions: Classified.

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