Santa Claus is coming to town — and you can find out when he’ll be traveling to your area this Christmas Eve and watch him live, thanks as always to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
NORAD’s Santa Tracker allows children (and adults) to follow Saint Nick as he delivers presents around the world and spreads yuletide cheer.
Santa is well on his way, having left the North Pole with his nine reindeer and a sleigh full of gifts after making final preparations, which started around 1 a.m. PT. Friday.
According to the noradsanta.org website, the agency is able to pinpoint the location of Santa’s sleigh through satellites with infrared sensors, which follows the heat emitted by Rudolph’s red nose.
“Rudolph’s nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch,” the website explains. “The satellites detect Rudolph’s bright red nose with no problem.”
The public can keep tabs on the Kris Kringle’s current whereabouts, as well as his next destination, by computer, smartphone or tablet.
One of the primary ways to monitor his route is through the official radar on the NORAD Santa Tracker website, which also allows people to view his movements live. Additionally, kids and adults can contact NORAD trackers by dialing 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to find his location.
There’s also the official NORAD Tracks Santa App, which is available for free through the Google Play and Apple App stores. Other tracking opportunities are also on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
This is the 66th year that NORAD has been tracking Santa’s annual Christmas Eve travels, a holiday tradition that brings joy to millions of people around the globe.
The annual event came about in 1955 as the result of serendipitous typo in a newspaper advertisement on how children could contact Santa Claus directly. A misprinted phone number led kids not to Santa, but to the Continental Air Defense Command Center, the agency that was replaced by NORAD in 1958, according to a news release.
U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the on-duty commander at the time, answered the phone and realized the mistake. But instead of telling the children they had dialed the wrong number, he identified himself to them as Santa. Shoup then instructed an officer to keep answering the phone calls, beginning a tradition that is still going strong decades later.
NORAD notes that its popular Santa tracking program costs virtually nothing, as it’s sustained through volunteers and supported financially by corporate licensees.