‘I told you guys Santa was real’

2012-12-25 11:28

Volunteers at a US Air Force base monitoring Santa Claus’s progress around the world answered a record number of calls from children – and some adults – wanting to know everything from Saint Nick’s age to how reindeer fly.

Oh, and when are the presents coming?

Hundreds of volunteers were answering the phones ringing nonstop yesterday at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, headquarters of the North American Aerospace Command’s annual Santa-tracking operation.

NORAD, a joint US-Canada command responsible for protecting the skies over both nations, says its Santa-tracking rite was born of a humble mistake in a newspaper advert in 1955.

The ad in a Colorado Springs newspaper invited children to call Santa but inadvertently listed the phone number for the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD’s predecessor, also based in Colorado Springs.

Officers played along. Since then, NORAD Tracks Santa has gone global, posting updates for nearly 1.2 million Facebook fans and 104 000 Twitter followers.

Spokesperson 1st Lt. Stacey Fenton said that as of midnight, trackers had answered more than 111 000 calls, breaking last year’s record of 107 000.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who is spending the holidays with her family in Hawaii, also joined in answering calls as she has in recent years. She spent about 30 minutes talking with children from across the country.

NORAD got calls from 220 countries and territories last year, and non-English-speakers called this year as well.

Volunteers who speak other languages get green Santa hats and a placard listing their languages so organisers can find them quickly.

“Need a Spanish speaker!” one organiser called as he rushed out of one of three phone rooms.

Volunteer Sara Berghoff was caught off-guard when a child called to see if Santa could be especially kind this year to the families affected by the recent Connecticut school shooting.

“I’m from Newtown, Connecticut, where the shooting was,” she remembered the child asking. “Is it possible that Santa can bring extra presents so I can deliver them to the families that lost kids?”

Sara, just 13 herself, gathered her thoughts quickly. “If I can get ahold of him, I’ll try to get the message to him,” she told the child.

Other questions required the volunteers to think fast:

“How do reindeer fly?”

“How many elves does Santa have?”

“Does Santa leave presents for dogs?”

“How old is Santa?” The answer to that one is in the FAQs that NORAD hands out to volunteers: “It’s hard to know for sure, but NORAD intelligence indicates Santa is at least 16 centuries old.”

One little boy phoned in to ask what time Santa delivered toys to heaven, said volunteer Jennifer Eckels, who took the call. The boy’s mother got on the line to explain that his sister had died this year.

“I think Santa headed there first,” Eckels told him.

NORAD suggested that its volunteers tell callers that Santa won’t drop off the presents until all the kids in the home are asleep.

“Ohhhhhhh,” said an 8-year-old.

“Thank you so much for that information,” said a grateful mom.

A young boy called to ask if Santa was real.

Air Force Maj. Jamie Humphries, who took the call, said, “I’m 37 years old, and I believe in Santa, and if you believe in him as well, then he must be real.”

The boy turned from the phone and yelled to others, “I told you guys he was real!”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


China's air pollution at doomsday levels

China has long been struggling with air pollution issues but just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse – it has.



Moving short film on ivory trade
10 Tips for Greener Shopping
How safe are your baby products?
5 maps that will change the way you see the world

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The pace may be slow today and you may struggle to get things off the ground level, but it is important to focus on the structure...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.