"I am looking at the tracker. I see the screen and he is in Sudan. He is all the way in Africa, and he's moving at the speed of light. He is going so fast and delivering all kinds of gifts all over the world," Michelle told one of the kids over phone.

The First Lady on Tuesday spent about 30 minutes answering calls from children asking where Santa was located as part of the annual NORAD Tracks Santa programme run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command. This is the First Lady's fourth year participating in this Christmas Eve tradition.

"This is First Lady Michelle Obama. I'm here today helping the folks out at NORAD track Santa, and is that what you're calling for? Are you calling to find out where Santa is?" she said.

"If you guys have been good this year, I know that Santa is going to come and deliver some great toys. But you know what, you have to be fast asleep before he comes to your house in South Carolina, okay, because Santa only comes when you guys are fast asleep," she told another child from South Carolina.

The NORAD Tracks Santa programme began in 1955 after a phone call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The call was from a local youngster who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper advertisement.

The commander on duty who answered the phone that night gave the youngster the information requested the whereabouts of Santa. This began the tradition of tracking Santa, a tradition that was carried on by NORAD when it was formed in 1958.

The NORAD Tracks Santa programme has grown immensely since first presented on the Internet in 1998. The website 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.

"Right now I'm looking at the radar screen and he is flying over a country called Burundi, which is in Africa. Right now I see his sleigh and you could make out these little hooves like feet moving and it looks like his reindeer are pulling him.

He's moving so fast. But the NORAD tracker can track him. So he is in Africa right now because there are some boys and girls that are fast asleep there in that country, and he is dropping off toys," she told another child.


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