Christmas Eve is here, and most all of the festive preparations have been done. The tree is decorated, presents may (or may not be) wrapped and under the tree, a plate of delicious cookies have been prepared for the Big Guy, and now the kids are questioning Mom and Dad regarding Santa’s whereabouts. Not so long ago, Santa’s movements were tracked on news stations, but it’s 2021 – and today there’s an app for that.
One of the fun parts of the Christmas season – particularly on Christmas Eve – is tracking Santa as he delivers goodies across the country. For families with kids of all ages, tracking Santa is a great way to have an answer when they (repeatedly) ask “Where is Santa now?”
Tracking Santa with NORAD
Apple App: Download
Android App: Download
For sixty years, news stations have provided up to date information on Santa’s locale using NORAD. In the internet age, families can track Santa using the NORAD website.
The ability to track Santa using NORAD happened by accident, according to NORAD’s website. In 1955, an advertisement containing a number to a department store shared a phone number for children to “get a direct line to Santa.” The phone number, however, was misprinted. When a child dialed the number, he wasn’t connected to the store’s employees, but he was connected to a commander in an organization that would later become NORAD – the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The child had connected to the Colorado based Continental Air Defense Command Center. At that time, this agency was known as CONAD. The child in question had gotten the number from a Sears catalog. It is uncertain just how the number came to be misprinted, but the commander with whom the child spoke realized just how necessary the ability to track Santa was – for kids of all ages.
The military officers in charged realized that the ability to track Santa could be a public relations dream come true. At first, the military would send out press releases that provided information on Santa’s locale. The communications would share not only Santa’s location, but they would also add humorous stories. These communications became quite popular, and they only added to Americans’ Christmas spirit.
It wasn’t until the early 1980s that an actual telephone hotline was created solely for the purpose of providing information to kids of all ages about the location of Jolly Ole Saint Nick.
The connection between the child and the commander at NORAD would eventually develop into a tradition for those at the agency.
NORAD is typically tasked with tracking flying objects in the name of national defense, but, after that misdial, the agency now has a special team whose purpose is to track the most important flying object on December 24 – Santa’s sleigh.
Today, this project is lead by Hannah Pinkos, who is a software developer with Cesium. Pinkos told Woman’s Day Magazine that the history of the misprinted number and the development of the Santa tracking team is what makes NORAD’s Santa tracking program special.
NORAD is also the first organization to provide an online Santa tracker back in 1995. NORAD’s tracker is the only one to utilize a 3D representation of Santa’s trip across the world (as opposed to a 2D model used by other organizations). In 2020, NORAD’s call center received over 100,000 calls, which is average for each year. The NORAD Santa tracker website garners over 30 million visitors every Christmas Eve.
Kids can also send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Users can also use the Amazon Alexa voice command to inquire Santa’s whereabouts. Twitter users can tweet @NoradSanta, or children can call 1-877-446-6723 for up to the minute information.
The NORAD site is arguably the most fun way to track Santa. There are gruff military commanders that offer details about Santa’s movements, plus there are videos on the site that really make the experience unique.
If parents download the NORAD app from Google’s Play store or Apple’s app store, they’ll find games and other interesting activities to keep kids busy on Christmas Eve. Kids of all ages are also able to follow the progress of the Big Guy live as the app updates regularly throughout the day.
In addition, there is a ChatBot on the NORAD site that will help you spot Santa (some users say the Bot is a little verbose, however).
Tracking Santa using Google
Android App: Download
Of course, Google has all the answers, so it’s only logical to think that Google would provide timely info regarding Santa. However, if parents or kids Google, “Where is Santa?” they won’t get the answer they’re expecting.
Google routinely tells users that Santa is located at home, which is Santa’s Village. Santa’s Village is a fun place with lots of games and activities for children.
At the same time, we all know that on Christmas Eve, Santa is aboard his sleigh delivering gifts all over the earth. Yep, if you Google “Where is Santa,” this time, Google will get it wrong.
However, Santa’s Village (see link) does provide some information on Saint Nick’s current location.
Google’s Voice Assistant, however, can give up to date info on the location of Santa. You can also visit the Santa tracker website for Saint Nick’s current location.
Visitors to Santa’s tracker via Google will find the site a little more “magical” than the NORAD website. Like the NORAD site, the Google Santa Tracker offers lots of games for kids of all ages. Some of the games even provide ways to learn how to code while playing these minigames.
Google’s site offers a Quick Draw game that experts say is the “most visual” way to follow Santa’s movements. This game is based on Google Tools, and it is also a great way for kids to learn computer skills while also having fun.
Of course, NORAD and Google are the top methods people of the internet age use to track Santa Clause. However, they aren’t the only ways parents can help children in the family get the latest on Santa’s movements.
Are there other Santa tracking apps available?
Yes, there are some apps developed just for tracking Santa.
A really fun app is the Speak to Santa Christmas Call. It is developed by the North Pole Command Center Limited organization and is available on the Apple App store.
Those with an Amazon Echo or a Google Home smart speaker can also ask these devices to “Call Santa.” Kids can have a fun conversation with an elf, but, on occasion, kids will actually get to speak to the Jolly Ole Saint himself.
Be sure to enable the NORAD Santa tracker skill on Alexa in order to get the full benefits of the app. You’ll have to go into the app to do so, and, when you do, you’ll also get some other holiday personalities to enjoy.
- Santa’s sleigh is required to travel 650 per second as it makes it’s twenty four hour journey around the world. That is three thousand times the speed of sound.
- Even Elon Musk’s rockets could never keep up with Santa’s sleigh. It’s simply part of the magic of the season.