Washington, DC – First Lady Michelle Obama today took phone calls from boys and girls from across the country asking where Santa was located as part of the annual NORAD Tracks Santa program run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.
This is the First Lady’s fourth year participating in this Christmas Eve tradition, according to a White House official.
The First Lady is currently in Hawaii on vacation with her husband President Barack Obama and other family members. In her conversations with the children she employed a portable Santa-tracking radar screen courtesy of NORAD.
Obama started taking the calls at around 11 a.m. local Hawaiian time and she spoke with about a dozen children for around 30 minutes.
Santa can easily perform his global Christmas Eve journey, the First Lady explained to the children, because he and his gift-laden, reindeer-drawn flying sleigh can go anywhere in the world at the speed of light.
“I’m looking on [NORAD’S] radar screen and right now, Santa is headed to the Republic of Rwanda — that’s in Africa, that’s all the way in Africa,” the First Lady told 9-year-old Wyatt from South Carolina. “Right now, he is delivering toys to some little girls and boys all the way in Africa. Can you believe that?”
She asked Wyatt what he wanted for Christmas and he answered, “A Zoomer [robotic dog].”
“A Zoomer? That sounds exciting, that sounds fun,” the First Lady replied.
Later, a young girl named Ella called to ask, “When is Santa coming to Kansas City?”
“Santa is going to come to your house, Ella, when you are fast asleep — that’s how he works,” the First Lady replied. “I think he is in Sudan now because there are some kids over there who are already tucked in bed with their eyes closed. So he is going to come to your house as soon as you’re asleep.”
The NORAD Tracks Santa program began in 1955 after a phone call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The call was from a local youngster who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper advertisement.
The commander on duty who answered the phone that night gave the youngster the information requested — the whereabouts of Santa. This began the tradition of tracking Santa, a tradition that was carried on by NORAD when it was formed in 1958.
The NORAD Tracks Santa program has grown immensely since first presented on the Internet in 1998. The website receives millions of unique visitors from hundreds of countries and territories around the world.
In addition, a live Operations Center is occupied for 25 hours with more than 1,200 volunteers each year who receive hundreds of thousands of phone calls and emails from families around the world.