A decades-old holiday tradition is once again kicking off on Christmas Eve: The NORAD Santa tracker is following Santa Claus around the world as he and his reindeer deliver gifts.
NORAD starts tracking Santa’s movements every year around 4 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve through its website and app. Starting at 6 a.m. EST, operators stand by for children to call and hear the latest on Santa’s whereabouts. You can call toll-free at 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723), and watch the tracker live in the video player above starting at 9:30 p.m. EST.
NORAD said this year, Amazon users can also monitor St. Nick’s Christmas Eve route by asking Alexa where Santa’s location is. It’s suggested that Alexa users download the free NORAD Tracks Santa skill before asking.
The NORAD Santa Tracker website supports eight languages. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
History of the NORAD Santa Tracker
NORAD started tracking Santa’s whereabouts in 1955 when a young child tried to call Santa after seeing a misprinted department store ad from a local newspaper.
"Instead of calling Santa, the child called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo." NORAD said on its website. "Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night who answered the child’s phone call, was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa."
An influx of children called the agency in search of Santa, so they assigned a duty officer to answer the calls. The tradition continued when CONAD became NORAD in 1958.
NORAD Santa Tracker website screen shot (credit: NORAD)
In addition to tracking Santa, NORAD monitors all traffic in North American airspace 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.