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NORAD Santa Trackers Having Record Holiday

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FILE - In this Dec. 24, 2010 file photo, volunteers take phone calls and answer emails at the Santa Tracking Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base near Colorado Springs, Colo. Santa is already piling up monster numbers on social networking sites this season, so the volunteer Santa-trackers at NORAD are bracing for tens of thousands of calls and emails when their operations center goes live on Christmas Eve. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File) (AP2010)

Santa's piling up more than presents this year. The big man's trackers at NORAD say Santa Claus also broke records this Christmas Eve.

Volunteers at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado were fielding 8,000 calls an hour Saturday afternoon, on pace to break a record. Also, Santa's NORAD Facebook page approached 920,000 "likes" by midafternoon. Last year, Santa had 716,000 "likes."

Volunteers at NORAD Tracks Santa said kids started calling at 4 a.m. Saturday to find out where Santa was.

"The phones are ringing like crazy," Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis said Saturday.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command has been telling anxious children about Santa's whereabouts every year since 1955. That was the year a Colorado Springs newspaper ad invited kids to call Santa on a hotline, but the number had a typo, and dozens of kids wound up talking to the Continental Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor.

The officers on duty played along and began sharing reports on Santa's progress. It's now a deep-rooted tradition at NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canada command that monitors the North American skies and seas from a control center at Peterson.

NORAD's Santa updates are blowing up on social media, too. In addition to the website and Facebook and Twitter pages, Santa this year has a new tracking app for smart phones. The app includes the Elf Toss, a game similar to Angry Birds.

First lady Michelle Obama was among the volunteers for a second year in a row. She took about 10 calls from her family's holiday vacation in Hawaii. Lewis said Obama's voice didn't throw any of the phoning children.

"They all just asked run-of-the-mill stuff. They wanted to know about Santa," Lewis said.

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