Santa's Helpers Take Record Number Of Calls

Santa's Helpers Take Record Number Of Calls

Volunteers at a US Air Force base who monitored Santa Claus' progress around the world have answered a record number of calls from children this year.

Hundreds of volunteers manned the phones at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, the headquarters of Norad.

Norad - the North American Aerospace Command - tracks Santa's progress around the globe  every year.

The callers, who included some adults, wanted to know how old Father Christmas is, how reindeer fly - and when their presents would arrive.

The volunteers ended up answering more than 111,000 calls, breaking last year's record of 107,000.

Volunteer Sara Berghoff was caught off-guard when a child called to see if Santa could be especially kind to the families affected by the recent school shooting.

"I'm from Newtown, Connecticut, where the shooting was," she remembered the child asking.

"Is it possible that Santa can bring extra presents so I can deliver them to the families that lost kids?"

Sara, who is just 13 herself, gathered her thoughts quickly, telling the child: "If I can get ahold of him, I'll try to get the message to him."

Other questions also required the volunteers to think fast, such as "How many elves does Santa have?" and "Does Santa leave presents for dogs?".

Norad suggested that its volunteers tell callers that Santa will not drop off the presents until all the children in the home are asleep.

"Ohhhhhhh," said an eight-year-old. "Thank you so much for that information," said a grateful mother.

The organisation gets calls from around 220 countries and territories, and First lady Michelle Obama, who is with her family in Hawaii, also helped answer the calls, as she has in recent years.

Norad, a joint US and Canadian command which is responsible for protecting the skies over both nations, said the Santa-tracking ritual came about by mistake.

An advert for a department store that was placed in a Colorado Springs newspaper in 1955 invited children to call Father Christmas.

But it inadvertently listed the phone number for the Continental Air Defence Command, Norad's predecessor, which was also based in Colorado Springs.

Officers played along with the children who called in, and since 1955 the Norad Tracks Santa service has gone global, posting updates for nearly 1.2 million Facebook fans and 104,000 Twitter followers.

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