NORAD NEWS

First Lady Michelle Obama volunteers her time for NORAD Tracks Santa

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | December 24, 2010

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- First Lady Michelle Obama today delivered a holiday surprise to children across America by personally answering phone calls on Santa’s journey as part of the annual NORAD Tracks Santa program run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Answering the telephone with, “Hello, this is First Lady Michelle Obama with NORAD Tracks Santa.  How may I help you?”, Mrs. Obama fielded calls from Hawaii to surprised children calling in to find out where Santa is on his trip around the world.  Mrs. Obama answered children’s questions about Santa’s exact location using NORAD’s global Santa Tracker and when he was expected to drop by their house.  She assured the children that NORAD is tracking Santa’s progress closely and that his journey was going well this Christmas Eve.

“Answering the excited calls from children across America wanting to know where Santa is tonight was a thrill for me this holiday,” said Mrs. Obama.  “NORAD does an outstanding job tracking Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve for children and I loved being a part of their holiday tradition.  I received calls from some very excited kids tonight wanting to know where Santa is and when they could expect him at their house.  I told them he would arrive once they went to sleep.”  

One little boy, Seth, upon hearing Mrs. Obama say she could see the approaching reindeer, cried, "Is Rudolph there?!"

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.