PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Verizon Business is once again teaming with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to provide toll-free calling to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline so children can track Santa Claus' Christmas Eve journey around the world.
Beginning at 4 a.m. Mountain time on Dec. 24 through 3 a.m. Mountain time on Dec. 25, children across the U.S. and Canada can call 1-877-HI-NORAD to find out Santa's exact location on Christmas Eve. (Callers residing in the local Colorado Springs calling area can reach the hotline by dialing 719-556-5211.)
More than 1,000 volunteers, military personnel from Colorado Springs, their families and friends, and NORAD Tracks Santa corporate sponsor team members will be continuously manning the NORAD Santa tracking hotline to ensure children know the whereabouts of Santa on Christmas Eve.
"The tradition of NORAD Tracking Santa began with an errant telephone call from a child, and that is why we continue the tradition," said Maj. Stacia Reddish, NORAD Tracks Santa program manager.
Verizon Business, through its relationship with NORAD, is able to provide the toll-free calling. In 2007, more than 94,000 calls were answered at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base.
"We are proud to do our part and donate time and resources to a tradition that warms the hearts of children at Christmas," said Susan Zeleniak, group president, Verizon Federal, a sales organization within Verizon Business dedicated to serving federal government customers. "Helping NORAD track Santa reflects Verizon's commitment to help children of all ages stay connected."
Tracking Santa for Half a Century
This will be the 50th year that NORAD, the bi-national U.S. and Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of both countries, has tracked Santa around the globe on Christmas Eve. The tradition started by accident in 1955 after a local newspaper ran a department store advertisement featuring a special Santa "hotline"' phone number. But instead of ringing a phone at the store, the phone number was the operations hotline to the Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD's predecessor).
The senior officer on duty at the time, Col. Harry Shoup, took the first call. He figured out what had happened after hearing youngsters ask if they could speak to Santa. The colonel told the youngsters that he was helping Santa and that he could see Santa on the radar screens, heading south from the North Pole.
Local news media learned of the calls and reported the story. The next year, calls came flooding into the Continental Air Defense Command from children who wanted to know where Santa was on Christmas Eve.
NORAD, which was founded in 1958, took over the tradition that year. Since then, the program has grown, expanding to the Internet in 1998 and introducing toll-free calling in 2002.
Children and their parents can also visit the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site (www.noradsanta.org), which provides real-time information on Santa's exact location. The information is available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and new this year, Chinese - complete with radar maps and streaming SantaCam video images documenting his global journey.
"Although the Web site has a huge audience, many children still like to call the Operations Center to talk to a real person," Maj. Reddish said. "We truly appreciate Verizon making it possible for the children to call NORAD on Christmas Eve."
Verizon Business is the largest provider of communications services to the U.S. federal government and one of the largest providers of advanced communications and information technology services globally. The company offers local-to-global network capabilities coupled with a broad range of telecommunications products and services - including advanced Internet protocol (IP) services, professional services, managed network services and systems integration - to all levels of government. With this broad portfolio of services, Verizon Business can provide federal agencies with one-stop shopping for their communications or connectivity needs.
About Verizon Business
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