TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Christmas is almost here, which means it’s time for NORAD to start tracking Santa’s journey across the world!
Every year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command – or NORAD – tracks Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve trip around the globe. This year marks the 66th anniversary of the Santa Tracker.
Here’s everything you need to know:
When can I start tracking Santa?
The official NORAD Tracks Santa website goes into countdown mode on Dec. 1. It started providing updates on Santa’s preparations starting at 4 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. Trackers can then keep tabs on Santa’s location around the world starting at 6 a.m. EST.
While the site is in countdown mode, visitors can play games, listen to Christmas music, learn more about Christmas and even chat with radar.
How can I track Santa?
NORAD now provides several different options for tracking Santa, like the NORAD Tracks Santa website available online. The website is available in several different languages.
If you’re on the go, you can also download the NORAD Tracks Santa app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to track him on your smart phone or tablet. According to NORAD, you can also track Santa’s journey on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, as well as three other platforms they’ve partnered with: Bing, Amazon Alexa and OnStar.
“Anytime on December 24, Amazon Alexa users can ask for Santa’s location through the NORAD Tracks Santa skill for Amazon Alexa, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa. Santa Trackers can also use the Bing search engine to learn of Santa’s location,” NORAD said on its website.
The option to call NORAD Santa Trackers is also still available. Families can call the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) starting at 6 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve for updates.
How long has NORAD been tracking Santa?
Santa’s journey has been tracked by NORAD since 1955 – and it all started because of a simple mistake.
According to NORAD, a young child accidentally called the unlisted phone number for the Continental Air Defense Command, or CONAD, in 1955. The child thought they were calling Santa, but had dialed a misprinted phone number from a department store ad in the local newspaper.
“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,” NORAD said. “After more incoming calls, Shoup assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls and a tradition was born.”
The tradition continued when NORAD formed in 1958. Now, several million people visit the Santa Tracker every year from more than 200 countries and territories.