As children of all ages eagerly await a visit by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, Verizon will team with the North American Aerospace Defense Command to provide toll-free calling so children can determine Santa's whereabouts as he travels across the globe.
Verizon will provide the toll-free hotline - 1-877-HI-NORAD - as well as call-handling capabilities, from 4 a.m. Mountain Time on Dec. 24 to 3 a.m. Mountain Time on Dec. 25. (Callers outside North America can reach the hotline by dialing the local Colorado Springs number at 719-556-5211, using the appropriate country code. International charges may apply.)
In addition, Verizon will provide high-speed wireless data connectivity over its 4G LTE wireless network to Santa-tracking volunteers at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base. This will allow the volunteers to download apps, access the Internet to help track Santa's progress and instantly respond to emails.
The company has provided the toll-free hotline since 2002. In 2010, more than 80,000 calls were answered at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center. This year, Verizon employees will join more than 1,200 volunteers representing military personnel from Colorado Springs, their families and friends, and NORAD Tracks Santa corporate contributors to staff the NORAD Santa tracking hotline.
Starting at 12 a.m. Mountain Time on Dec. 24, children of all ages also can visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website (www.noradsanta.org), which will provide real-time information on Santa's exact location. The information will be available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese, and will include radar maps and streaming "SantaCam" video images from cities along Santa's journey.
In addition, for the first time, parents and children can download free smart phone apps in the Apple iTunes Store and in the Android market to count down the days until Santa and his reindeer take off from the North Pole.
Santa also can be tracked through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ by typing "@noradsanta."
"NORAD stands the watch protecting the skies of North America 365 days a year, but on Christmas Eve the children of the world look to NORAD, and our trusted partners, to make sure that Santa is able to complete his mission safely," said Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., NORAD commander. "This mission is a duty to the children of the world and a privilege we've enjoyed for 56 consecutive years, but the effort could not be carried out without the superb assistance of numerous government and non-government contributors. It is the generosity of these contributors, the hard work of the more than 1,200 volunteers who man the NORAD Tracks Santa Operation Center, and vigilance of the Canadian and U.S. forces who work at NORAD that guarantee the program's success each and every year."
This marks the 56th year that NORAD, the binational U.S. and Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of both countries, has tracked Santa as he travels around the world. The tradition started by accident in 1955 after a local newspaper misprint prompted children to call the Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD's predecessor) instead of a special Santa hotline phone number.
The colonel on duty at the time, after hearing children ask if they could speak to Santa, told the youngsters he could see Santa on the radar screens, heading south from the North Pole - and a tradition was born.
Susan Zeleniak, group president, Verizon Federal, said: "Verizon is creating connections that help enrich lives, and that's especially true on Christmas Eve, when our volunteers and advanced communications technology are answering the call for Santa. This is a wonderful holiday tradition that we have been proud to be a part of. We look forward to celebrating the holidays with NORAD and the countless people this program touches around the globe."
Verizon is the largest provider of communications services to the U.S. federal government, delivering a broad range of advanced IT and communications services that help to transform the way government customers - and their constituents -- do business. For more information, visit http://www.verizonbusiness.com/federal.