NORAD’s App Lets You Track Which Cities Santa Claus Has Visited on Christmas Eve

While OnStar and Zillow offer content

Headshot of Sami Main

Tracking Santa Claus' journey as he makes his way around the world has never been easier thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

Curious kids can visit NORAD's website dedicated to Saint Nick, while seeing photos from the cities he's visited in recent hours. There's also a NORAD Santa Tracker app, available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play, filled with activities, games, mini-books and other features.

NORAD, which is a combined effort between the United States and Canada that focuses on aerospace controls and warnings, has been tracking Santa's "whereabouts" every Christmas Eve since 1955.

Here's how the tradition began. Sixty-one years ago on Dec. 24, as legend has it, many children called NORAD in Colorado, while following instructions from a misprinted newspaper ad and wondering about Santa's location. Colonel Harry Shoup, now known as "Colonel Santa," answered the call that night, and he had each of the operators give Santa's fictional coordinates to the kids, thus beginning NORAD's Santa tracking tradition.

"NORAD is able to provide goodwill and joy to children and families all over the globe while educating the public on NORAD's day-to-day mission in the defense of North America," a NORAD rep told Adweek. "Twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year, NORAD tracks airplanes, missiles, space launches and anything else that flies in or around the North American continent."

What's more, OnStar has been a partner with NORAD's Santa Tracker for eight years. Users can access Santa's path through OnStar-equipped cars by asking the OnStar operator just where old Saint Nick is currently located.

OnStar is not the only organization having Christmastime fun with NORAD. As a first-time partner, real estate search engine Zillow created a house listing for Santa's cabin. Currently off the market, Zillow produced a video tour of the house, complete with specs and price estimates.

Take a look at the house, which sits "on 25 idyllic acres at the North Pole—perfect for spirited reindeer games," by clicking here for the full video.

NORAD doesn't seek out these, or any other, partnerships with the Santa Tracker program. Instead, those brands approach the program in order to be a part of this rather magical experience for children.

As of now, the NORAD Santa Tracker app has some 107,000 downloads from the Apple and Google Play stores after launching Dec 1. Last year, NORAD's site tracker for Santa received more than 22 million unique visitors and greater than 70 million page views.

@samimain Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.
Publish date: December 24, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT