Some of the kids who dialed up Colorado Springs-based NORAD’s Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve to pinpoint the whereabouts of the The Jolly One as he circled the globe bearing gifts got an extra holiday surprise when the president of the United States — aka POTUS, aka Donald Trump — answered the phone. First Lady Melania Trump was taking some of the calls, as well, reports Politico.
Now in its 62nd year, the beloved tradition of tracing Santa’s contrails using state-of-the-art national-security hardware is, for youngsters, at least, probably the most important role of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. (NORAD, headquartered at Colorado Springs’ Peterson Air Force Base, has other duties, of course — notably, scanning the skies for incoming. But it’s the holidays, and let’s not get off topic.)
Politico recapped some of the exchanges between the kids and the first couple, who were spending the evening at their Mar-a-Lago winter White House in Palm Beach, Florida:
The children did not know they were going to talk to the president and the first lady and were patched through according to the White House pool report.
Trump spoke to Casper from Virginia.
“What would you like more than anything?” the president asked.
“Building blocks, that’s what I’ve always liked too. I always loved building blocks … Well I predict Santa will bring you building blocks, so many you won’t be able to use them all,” he told the child.
Some of the kids’ comments are downright awww-worthy and are sure to prolong your holiday glow; check out the full Politico report for more.
Many Coloradans are probably familiar with the story of the NORAD Christmastime ritual’s accidental origins; Denver’s Fox31 recounts it for us:
A Colorado Springs newspaper ran an ad in 1955 inviting children to call Santa but mistakenly ran the phone number for the hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, which was tasked with monitoring the skies for a possible nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. Children began calling and the CONAD staff happily played along.
CONAD gave way to NORAD over the years, and what began as an ad hoc courtesy to kids nowadays even has its own interactive website replete with satellite imagery and a computer-graphic simulation of Old Saint Nick, sleigh and reindeer making their approach to whatever city a site visitor clicks on.
It’s “…Night Before Christmas” goes high-tech, courtesy of the Department of Defense. Think of it as a peacetime spinoff of the military budget.