What Is the Santa Tracker?

santa-tracker Credit: Michel Tcherevkoff/Stone/Getty Images

The Santa Tracker is an entertainment program that provides a map with the current location of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and Christmas. The two most popular Santa Trackers, as of 2015, are run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, and Google.

NORAD Tracks Santa began with a 1955 Sears advertisement that ran in Colorado Springs and provided a telephone number for Santa Claus. Due to a misprint, the calls actually went to the Colorado Springs' Continental Air Defense Command Center, or CONAD. The colonel who was in charge told staff to give callers a location for Santa Claus. It became a yearly tradition. NORAD took over the program in 1958 when it replaced CONAD.

NORAD Tracks Santa is available online at NORADSanta.org and as a smart phone application. Google worked with NORAD on the Santa Tracker from 2007 to 2011, but in 2012 it decided to create its own program. The Google Santa Tracker is available online at SantaTracker.Google.com and as a smart phone application.

Both trackers provide Santa's current location and the distance he has traveled. They also sometimes list his next stop. Both trackers provide video clips of Santa. NORAD Tracks Santa has videos of Santa flying over cities, while Google Santa Tracker has video clip animations of Santa.