A 7-year-old South Carolina girl got quite the present Christmas Eve when she called the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to get an update on Santa’s journey.
Each year, NORAD tracks the Santa’s jaunt around the world.
Instead of a Santa update, Collman got to talk to the president of the United States. And it turns out the little girl has strong Columbus connections. She was born here and lived here until about three years ago. Her father, Don Lloyd, worked at WLTZ and mother, Erica, was a local elementary school teacher in Muscogee County.
The call made national news because of President Donald Trump’s exchange with Collman. The Lloyd’s have been fielding interview request for Collman from local networks, CNN and Fox News. Collman and her family, big sister Ella Claire and her little brother, Charlton, talked to the president from their South Carolina home Christmas Eve. By the time television news crews caught up with them, they were in Augusta with family on Christmas Day.
With Collman on speaker phone in her Lexington, S.C., home and the president and First Lady in the White House, Trump asked Collman several questions.
“You doing well in school? … What are you going to do for Christmas? … Are you still a believer in Santa?”
Trump followed the Santa question: “Because at 7 it’s marginal, right?”
A lot of people on social media have been offended. Not the Lloyds because of the context of the entire conversation.
“He was talking to her like we would talk to her,” Erica said. “His personality came across. He asked her about school and her grades.”
The whole thing happened quickly and sent the Lloyd’s scrambling for a camera to record the moment.
“A teacher friend of Erica’s sent us the number to NORAD and said they had done it and it was cool,” Don said.
Erica dialed the number and they were supposed to talk to a scientist in Colorado. The man on the other end of the line began to ask a lot of questions and wanted to speak to Collman’s parents. Erica said. He asked them if they wanted to speak to the president, then told them not to hang up while the connected the call.
“They did everything right,” Don said.
Don and Erica were still skeptical, even when the president came on the line.
“It was cool that Collman got to talk to the president,” Don said. “It is something she will never forget.”
The exchange with the president about believing in Santa was a great teaching moment for a second grader, Erica said.
“Vocabulary is huge for me in what I do,” Erica said. “She didn’t really know what marginal meant, but she does now.”
This is not political — like some have tried to make it — for Collman’s parents.
“I don’t care who the president is, it could have been Obama, Bush, Clinton, whoever, Collman got to talk to the president of the United States,” Don said.