The Norad Santa Tracker is an annual tradition that dates back to 1955, when a child in Colorado Springs accidentally placed a call to the on-duty commander of what was then known as Continental Air Defence Command, looking to speak with Santa Claus, inspiring him to order a public affairs officer to inform the press that the US military was tracking Santa’s reindeer-pulled flying sleigh.
Norad now publishes the phone number of a volunteer-staffed hotline children can dial to receive updates on the cookie-eating, toy-delivering jolly man’s progress on his annual around-the-world delivery run. And in recent years, most presidents have joined in on the tradition by answering a few calls.
Mr Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were patched in to Norad’s Santa tracker line from an auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and were finishing a call with children from an Oregon family when the children’s father, a man who identified himself as Jared, interjected: “Merry Christmas and let’s go Brandon”.
Conservatives and supporters of former president Donald Trump have used the “let’s go Brandon” slogan as code for “f**k Joe Biden” since an NBC sports reporter misreported the content of the vulgar slogan, which was being chanted by the crowd at a September Nascar race.
The phrase has become somewhat of a shibboleth among consumers of right-wing media in recent months, but Mr Biden, who replied “let’s go Brandon, I agree,” did not appear to be in on the vulgar joke.
Mr Biden’s encounter with the caller was not the first time a presidential Santa Tracker call has gone horribly awry.
In 2018, a call between a seven-year-old girl named Collman and Mr Trump raised eyebrows after the then-president implied to the girl that Santa Claus was not real.
After asking what the youngster was doing for Christmas, Mr Trump followed up with: “Are you still a believer in Santa?”
“Because at seven it’s marginal, right?” he continued.
Mr Trump, who did not appear to realise that he’d told a child that Santa Claus did not exist, laughed to himself for a moment before concluding with: “Well, you just enjoy yourself”.