Lizzie Solano, center, and her sister Sarah take phone calls from children asking where Santa is during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation in 2012. (Brennan Linsley/AP)
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, COLO. — The North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Santa-tracking program logged 19.58 million unique visitors to its website on Christmas Eve.
NORAD said Thursday that volunteers answered 117,371 calls from children seeking information on the jolly old elf’s whereabouts. First lady Michelle Obama was among the program’s 1,200 volunteers.
Those numbers are up from last year when volunteers answered 114,000 phone calls from around the world. The website had 22.3 million unique visitors. NORAD Tracks Santa had 1.2 million followers on Facebook and 129,000 on Twitter.
The Christmas tradition of tracking Santa began in 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement invited children to call Santa but mistakenly listed the hotline of NORAD’s predecessor.