Wed, Dec 28, 2011
Phone Volunteers Included First Lady Michelle Obama
It started as a mistake more than a half-century ago in 1955,
after a phone call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command
Operations Center in Colorado Springs by a local youngster who
dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper
advertisement. The commander on duty who answered the phone that
night played along, and gave out info on the whereabouts of Santa.
The annual phone operation became a tradition that was carried on
by NORAD when it was formed in 1958.
The NORAD Tracks Santa program grew immensely after it was first
presented on the Internet in 1998. The website now 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.
Still more growth is now being driven by Facebook and Twitter.
The Associated Press reports that the 2011 effort not only set
another record, but blew last year out of the water. Facebook
"likes rose from 716,000 last year to 999,000. Twitter followers
jumped even more, from 53,000 to 89,000. And old-fashioned
telephone traffic jumped from a previous high of 80,000 to 102,000
For the second year in a row, First Lady Michelle Obama
personally answered phone calls regarding Santa's journey from a
connection forwarded to Hawaii, where the First Family is
vacationing. Sh commented afterward, "It is wonderful to be part of
this holiday tradition. 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."
Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis told the AP the kids were not at all
intimidated to have the First Lady on the other end of the phone.
"They all just asked run-of-the-mill stuff. They wanted to know
To be fair, if you're six years old, Santa is a much bigger deal
than the First Lady.
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