LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/CBS News) – A child called in to NORAD’s Santa tracker hotline on Christmas Eve and got an unusual question from President Donald Trump.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was still tracking Santa Claus’ journey across the globe, despite the partial government shutdown. NORAD was fielding calls throughout the day and night from children, trying to pinpoint exactly where Santa was and when he would make his long awaited arrival.
NORAD has been following Santa for decades with the help of nearly 1,500 military personnel and volunteers. In the past, some of Santa’s helpers included former first lady Michelle Obama, who answered calls for more than six years running. The president and first lady Melania Trump assisted NORAD during the 2017 and current holiday seasons, as she noted on Twitter on Christmas Eve.
At one point, the president told a 7-year-old girl that believing in Santa at that age is “marginal.” He asked the girl, named Collman , if she’s still a believer in Santa. After listening, Trump said, “Because at 7, it’s marginal, right?” He listened again and chuckled before saying, “Well, you just enjoy yourself.”
Maj. Andrew Hennessey of the Canadian military said NORAD began tracking Santa 63 years ago and started as a local advertisement in a local Colorado Springs newspaper.
“It was a Sears administration printed a phone number that was meant to be calling Santa directly and it ended up calling our operations director at the time. He took a call from the child, thought it was a prank and kind of figured out what was going on. Quickly after that, and ‘NORAD Tracks Santa’ continues that tradition today.”
Santa had made his way to the United States just after 7 p.m. PST.
“Generally, he starts around the international dateline, goes to New Zealand, Australia, Asia pacific, Europe and finally into North America, where we will escort him with NORAD fighter jets in Canada and the United States. We’re locked right onto him with our radars in the systems we use every day to defend North America,” Hennessey said.
For those looking for live updates on Santa’s journey, NORAD offers live updates by phone, Facebook, Twitter and email. If you call 877-HI-NORAD, someone will give you an update.