Santa Claus is coming to town.
Thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Google, eager boys and girls awaiting Santa’s arrival can keep tabs on him — including his last stop, where he’s off to next, and even how many gifts he’s delivered — as he makes his annual journey.
This year marks the 64th anniversary of NORAD tracking Mr. Claus and his team of all-female (yep, that’s right!) reindeer. According to its website, the tradition began in 1955 when a local newspaper ad misprinted Santa’s phone number and instead gave out the direct line to Air Force Col. Harry Shoup at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado Springs.
Shoup played the part as best he could before enlisting a duty officer to help answer the children’s questions throughout the night, and when NORAD was formed three years later to help protect the airspace over North America, they continued the holiday tradition of tracking Father Christmas.
The annual livestream begins every year ahead of Christmas Eve, allowing viewers to tune in to see Saint Nick making his final preparations before jetting off with Rudolph and the other reindeer.
The tracking app is a fun way for parents and kids to prepare for Santa’s arrival together: after all, he and his reindeer are probably a bit too busy spreading Christmas cheer to respond to any frantic “ETA???” texts.
Beginning on Christmas Eve Day, families can follow along on the journey through NORAD’s “Santa Cams” or call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to speak with live NORAD trackers, in keeping with the tradition’s origin. There’s also a NORAD Tracks Santa Claus app and even a skill for Amazon Alexa!
And NORAD isn’t the only one keeping their eye out for Mr. Claus — since 2004, Google has also gotten in on tracking the highly anticipated evening’s annual guest of honor. Leading up to Christmas, kids (and adults getting into the holiday spirit) can visit their site during the entire month of December to check in on Santa’s progress and play interactive games.