Google, NORAD Santa trackers 2018: Santa trackers go live

The History of NORAD's Santa Tracker

Let’s face it, Santa is kind of a big deal.

For thousands of years, he has been the face of the Christmas gift-giving franchise: a jolly guy who oversees a toy distribution system that would make Amazon blush.

He’s so big, that just like some Hollywood celebrity couple with a merged name, people want to know his every move.

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Coming this weekend, you will have the chance to track Santa in the run-up to his big night – Christmas Eve.

On Saturday, both the U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command and the search engine Google will power up their radars and launch their websites in anticipation of the annual one-night, round-the-world-flight of the North Pole’s most famous resident.

For more than 63 years, NORAD has turned its tracking capabilities toward following the progress of Santa Claus and his reindeer as the jolly old elf takes flight on Christmas Eve.

More than 1,500 volunteers staff telephones and computers on Christmas Eve to answer calls and emails about Santa's progress. Live updates are provided (in seven languages) through the NORAD Tracks Santa website.

For the hardcore Santa follower, NORAD’s website does not disappoint. Beginning Saturday, visitors can visit the website to watch a movie, play some games, hear some music and learn about St. Nicholas, his elves and his sleigh.

Over at Google, Santa has been on their radar, literally, for 13 years.

Google's Santa Tracker includes Santa's Village, which opens on Saturday. There is a countdown clock there, too, and as we move toward Dec. 24, the village unlocks new games and experiences for visitors.

Look for a place to create artwork, a place to hone your coding skills and a place to test your geography skills.

Google also reminds users that you can search for Santa directly in Google Maps and in addition to using the Santa Tracker. You can even go into Street View to look at the cities he is visiting as he makes his trip to deliver toys.

You can follow Santa via Google on desktop or mobile devices (Android/iOS), Android appAndroid TV app and Chromecast.

While the two sites have different features, where they come together is when they go into tracking mode on Christmas Eve.

You can watch Santa as he leaves the North Pole headed on his worldwide voyage in real time. He visits countries around the world through the day and brings it home to the United States by Christmas Eve night.

Of course, you really should be in bed by that time.

<p>Maj. Jared Scott, makes sure NORAD&#39;s Santa tracker is working correctly at Tyndall Air Force Base on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 in Panama City, Fla.&nbsp;</p>

Maj. Jared Scott, makes sure NORAD's Santa tracker is working correctly at Tyndall Air Force Base on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 in Panama City, Fla.