It's still bright daylight in Hawaii where the Obama's are spending their Christmas holiday, but for many Americans, night has fallen and children are eagerly waiting for Santa's arrival. So, while the president spent an afternoon at the beach with family and friends, Mrs. Obama took part in the "NORAD Tracks Santa" program, answering phone calls from children desperate to know where Saint Nick is and when he might visit their homes.
According to the White House, the first lady started taking calls around 5 p.m. EST - which is noon in Hawaii. The calls were coordinated by NORAD and directed to the phone lines in Kailua, where the first family is staying during their vacation. Mrs. Obama introduced herself to each caller and when she was asked for Santa's location, she looked at the NORAD Santa Route Schedule and gave out the information. The White House says Mrs. Obama answered the calls for approximately 40 minutes.
NORAD's program to track Santa began in 1955 when a young child misdialed a phone number in a local newspaper. The call went through to the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs and the commander on duty told the child where Santa was at that time. And, so a tradition was born. NORAD was officially formed in 1958 and the agency picked up the tradition of tracking the big guy.
And for those back in Washington, D.C. where the Obama's spend most of their time, NORAD says Santa will be over the White House, and the rest of the city at midnight.
The first family will celebrate Christmas in Hawaii tomorrow. No word on gifts, but the meal is set: Steak, roasted potatoes, green beans and the president's favorite, pie, for dessert.