Michelle Obama, on vacation with her family in Hawaii, took part in the NORAD Tracks Santa Program run by the North Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). She spoke with children on Saturday on an air defense hotline set up to track Santa's journey.
AP reports that about 1,200 volunteers at the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado had taken more than 100,000 telephone queries about the progress of Santa by midnight MST Saturday. According to the volunteers kids started calling in at 4 a.m. to know where Santa was. One of the volunteers Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis exclaimed: "The phones are ringing like crazy."
Santa's first stop this year in the U.S. came at 9:02 p.m. MST in Atlanta. He traveled westward stopping in Cleveland, Toronto and Denver. According to NORAD, he visited Hawaii before his last stop in Alaska.
Michelle Obama who is volunteering for the second year running, took 10 calls. She said: "I love answering calls from children who were anxious to learn where Santa was and when he would arrive at their home. I passed on to each child the current location of Santa and reminded them that he would come to their house only after they were in bed sleeping."
According to The New York Post, she answered calls, saying: "Hello, this is First Lady Michelle Obama with NORAD Tracks Santa. How may I help you?"
AFP reports the First Lady told a girl named Summer that the tracker had picked up Santa, and that his sleigh was full of toys: "Right now, I am looking at the tracker and I can see a dot on the satellite screen. It says that Santa, right now, is flying over Finland."
The First Lady told another girl Victoria, "There's a little flashing light on this tracker, and the experts think that it is probably Rudolph who's leading the sleigh this year. So he's out there." Victoria had wanted to know if the tracking technology NORAD was using could tell whether it was Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer at the head of the Santa's sleigh.
The First Lady said she hoped President Barack Obama would be able to join the family for Christmas: "We were all praying and praying, and asking Santa, and the Tooth Fairy, and every fairy that he would be able to be with us on Christmas."
Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis said non of the kids reacted to hearing the First Lady's voice on phone. "They all just asked run-of-the-mill stuff. They wanted to know about Santa."
According to AFP, the North Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) which watches the airspace of Canada and the United States has been responsible since 1955 for locating and tracking Santa on behalf of kids who are anxious for updates on the progress of his journey from the North on Christmas Eve. NORAD deploys four high-tech systems: radar, satellites, "Santa Cams" and fighter jets to track Santa on his journey around the globe on Christmas Eve. Children may track Santa at noradsanta.org which shows a map with Santa's current location and provides constant updates in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.
AP reports that NORAD took up the responsibility of tracking Santa for kids when in 1955 a Colorado Springs newspaper that invited kids to call Santa on a hotline provided a number with a typo, and many children found themselves talking to the Continental Aerospace Defense Command (as NORAD was known then). Thanks to the quick thinking of the officers who took the phone calls, the kids got the latest updates on Santa's progress on Christmas Eve 1955.
By midnight on Thursday, noradsanta.org had recorded 7.6 million unique hits and it's Santa page on Facebook had more than 961,000 likes, compared to last year's 716,000. Last year, NORAD received a record total of 80,000 phone calls, compared to over 100,000 this year