The popular Santa-tracking program hosted by the North American Aerospace Defense Command broke its own record this Christmas Eve, fielding calls from thousands of children watching Santa and his reindeer make their way around the world, presents in tow.
NORAD has been monitoring Santa's gift-giving journey since 1955, when a Sears ad in a local paper misprinted the number for Santa's "private phone." Instead of listing the number for Sears, the ad printed the digits for Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor, according to The Atlantic. After receiving numerous phone calls from excited children, the agency continued to play along every Christmas Eve.
This year, children were able to track Santa by live-streaming his all-night flight via the NORAD website. According to NORAD officials, volunteers received approximately 117,371 calls, indicating a 3 percent increase from 2012. The agency also responded to more than 9,600 emails, exceeding last year's count. Additionally, 19.58 million unique visitors accessed the NORAD website on Christmas Eve.
"Throughout the year the men and women of NORAD work hard to provide aerospace security for North America, but for this one night every year, we are able to help bring the magic of Christmas to children around the world," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, NORAD's public affairs director, said in a statement. "We at NORAD are honored to be a part of so many peoples' holiday traditions."