NORAD also offers a look at the North Pole, Christmas music and more.
Here are five things to know about the holiday tradition called Official NORAD Santa Tracker.
1. HOW DO YOU FOLLOW SANTA'S PATH?
NORAD provides updates by phone, Facebook, Twitter and email. If you call 877-HI-NORAD on Christmas Eve, a live person will give you an update. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org. NORAD's Santa operations center opens at 6 a.m. ET on Dec. 24. NORAD says Santa usually starts in the South Pacific and hits New Zealand and Australia before heading to Japan and Asia. Africa and Europe are next, followed by North America and South America. Santa calls the shots, NORAD says on its website. We just track him!
2. WHY DOES NORAD TRACK SANTA?
In 1955, a local newspaper advertisement invited children to call Santa but mistakenly listed the hotline for NORAD. Rather than disappoint the kids, commanders told them they indeed knew where Santa was. NORAD, a U.S.-Canadian operation based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., continues the tradition every Christmas Eve.
3. WHAT DO KIDS ASK WHEN THEY CALL?
Among the questions kids have had on their minds when they called in previous years:
- Am I on the nice list or the naughty list?
- Can you put my brother on the naughty list?
- Are you an elf?
- How much to adopt one of Santa's reindeer?
4. WHAT ROUTE DOES SANTA TRAVEL?
Santa usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west. So, historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. After that, he shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central and South America. Keep in mind, Santa's route can be affected by weather, so it's really unpredictable. NORAD coordinates with Santa's Elf Launch Staff to confirm his launch time, but from that point on, Santa calls the shots. We just track him!
5. WHEN WILL SANTA ARRIVE AT YOUR HOUSE?
NORAD Tracks Santa, but only Santa knows his route, which means we cannot predict where and when he will arrive at your house. We do, however, know from history that it appears he arrives only when children are asleep! In most countries, it seems Santa arrives between 9:00 p.m. and midnight on December 24th. If children are still awake when Santa arrives, he moves on to other houses. He returns later… but only when the children are asleep!