Adults may have long stopped believing in Santa Claus, but children have better imaginations. This year, Google and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) continue with the long-standing tradition of tracking down Santa, with a slew of games and activities available on their websites counting down to Dec. 24, when Santa makes his round-the-world trip to deliver gifts to all children who have been good this year.
Google has launched its official Santa Tracker website, which offers new projects every day until Christmas Eve to stir up the excitement. Some of the activities include games that were already available from previous years, where children can help Santa's elves pack presents and train and race reindeers.
"Whether you're wearing snow goggles or sunnies this December, come back to www.google.com/santatracker each day to join in on present parachute practice and reindeer races, or to send a call to friends from Santa," says Sandy Russell, Santa launch strategist at Google. "There's only 23 days to go, so follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter in the countdown to #tracksanta!"
Meanwhile, NORAD has been tracking Santa for more than 50 years and will do the same for children all over the world this year. The NORAD Tracks Santa effort this year is in partnership with Microsoft, which will provide information about Santa's latest whereabouts through a Bing Maps-powered 3D globe. Children can click on each location along the way to bring up a Bing results page with "fun facts and beautiful imagery for each location."
Like Google's Santa Tracker, NORAD Tracks Santa will now let children follow Santa around the globe on Windows Phone smartphones and tablets starting 12:01 A.M. on Dec. 24. Children can also view streaming videos of NORAD's tracking through the Santa Cams that were first used in 1998, when NORAD first took its Santa tracking tradition online.
For those who would rather speak to someone to ask about where Santa currently is, they can call the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org starting at 6 A.M. Eastern Time on Christmas Eve.
NORAD Tracks Santa was borne of a printing mistake. In 1955, an advertisement for Sears misprinted the phone number that children can call to directly talk to Santa and led them to the NORAD's Commander-in-Chief's hotline instead. Colonel Harry Shoup, NORAD's director of operations at the time, had his staff checked for Santa's location so they can inform children who called about the big guy's whereabouts. Since then, NORAD has been keeping the tradition for nearly 60 years.