NORAD: Santa Intends To Launch 2 Hours Later This Year, Live Broadcast Satellite Feeds Available

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Members of North American Aerospace Defense Command are preparing to track Santa again this year, and are working to accommodate the jolly fellow's change in flight schedule.

Although we are not 100-percent certain of the reason behind the later departure, it may be due to the bedtime hour for youngsters around the world. In years past, Santa has often times had to circle back around since many of the children were not asleep when he visited them the first time.

Members of North American Aerospace Defense Command are preparing to track Santa again this year, and are working to accommodate the jolly fellow's change in flight schedule.

NORAD, in coordination with the North Pole staff, has been notified that Santa will launch two hours later than he has in previous years. No specific explanation was provided and according to the North Pole staff, Santa will launch from the North Pole 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

"For the past six years Santa has launched from the North Pole two hours earlier than he intends this year", said Maj. Stacia Reddish, NORAD Tracks Santa Program Manager.    "Although we are not 100-percent certain of the reason behind the later departure, it may be due to the bedtime hour for youngsters around the world. In years past, Santa has often times had to circle back around since many of the children were not asleep when he visited them the first time."

And for the first time ever, the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) will offer live interview opportunities via satellite with experts at NORAD headquarters who are actively tracking the location of Santa Claus. Live interview opportunities will be available for international media Dec. 24 from 7 - 9 a.m. EST. Broadcasters interested in arranging a satellite interview on the NORAD Tracks Santa program for Christmas Eve should contact DVIDS media hotline at 678-421-6612 or news@dvidshub.net. Scheduling is necessary in order to accommodate all interested news organizations. An on-scene, DoD-trained reporter/cameraman will help facilitate interviews and shots of the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center during the live opportunity based on schedule and requests.

Also new this year, people can get updates on Santa's travels using Twitter. Follow @noradsanta once logged in to http://www.twitter.com to not only track Santa but to participate in Twitter holiday conversations.

In preparation for the launch, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center is being readied to kick into high gear for tracking Santa Dec. 24. Over 1,000 Santa tracker volunteers have signed on to cycle through the center answering telephone calls and e-mails from children around the world wanting to get a fix on Santa Claus' whereabouts.

A toll free number is available at 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) for children to call and personally speak to a Santa tracker on Christmas Eve. In addition, children can send an email to noradtrackssanta@gmail.com.

In 2007, 1,012 volunteers at the NTS Operations Center answered 94,743 telephone calls and 10,326 emails from children around the world.

The NORAD Tracks Santa Web site, http://www.noradsanta.org, went live Dec. 1 and has already recorded more than a 1.016 million visitors from more than 200 countries and territories. Last year, the site received almost 11 million visitors from 212 countries and territories around the world.

On Dec 24, when Santa takes off from the North Pole, children can track him with up-to-the-minute reports in Google Maps and Google Earth and can view video captured by NORAD's Santa cams from several key stops. All of this information is available on the Web site in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and new this year, Chinese.

"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. Reddish. "Although the Web site has a huge audience, many children still like to call the Operations Center to talk to a real person. In fact, last year, the Santa trackers answered about 40 calls per hour from children around the world".

The NTS Operations Center, like the Web site, is corporately sponsored. Verizon donates the toll free number, Qwest, Avaya and PCI provide communications engineering, 5 Star Bank, Pepsi Distributing, and First Choice Awards and Gifts keep the trackers happy with food, beverages and souvenir tracking pins.

Radio Broadcasters may receive audio files updates for Santa Cam videos files (English only) by going to http://www.norad.mil/audio. Please adhere to the Media Advisory Notification.

Major News Broadcasting outlets (only) may request a copy of the 24 "Santa Cam" animated videos with voiceovers for airing on Dec. 24, by sending an email to stacia.reddish@northcom.mil * Requests must be sent NLT 21 Dec 08. Please adhere to the Media Advisory Notification.

Media outlets may request a copy of the high-resolution 2007 Historical Flight of NORAD tracking Santa (currently displayed on the home page of web site) or B-Roll of an interview with Google Earth engineer Brian McClendon about NORAD Tracks Santa by going to http://www.thenewsmarket.com/google and entering their User ID and Password information. If outlets do not have a NewsMarket account, they may visit http://www.thenewsmarket.com and register for free to gain access to this footage.

In addition, broadcasters may embed the tracking map on their Web site or broadcast by going to http://www.noradsanta.org, "Contact Us", then "Media Center", where they will find the instructions and the link to do this.

Media outlets wanting an update on Dec. 24 may call into the NTS Media Center at (719) 556-1910 or (719) 556-5128. Be advised these lines can get extremely busy.

For other information related to NORAD Tracks Santa, including pre-recorded or live interviews, please send an email to: nnc.pa.nts.omb@northcom.mil

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Lt. Desmond James

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