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Updated: 12:06 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 | Posted: 11:15 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016

Google and NORAD Santa tracker 2016: It’s never too early to look for the jolly old elf

By Debbie Lord

Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Both the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the search engine Google powered up their radar Thursday in anticipation of the annual one-night, round-the-world-flight of a certain resident of the North Pole.

For more than 60 years, NORAD has turned all of its tracking capabilities toward following the progress of Santa Claus and his reindeer as he takes flight on Christmas Eve. For the hardcore Santa follower, NORAD’s website does not disappoint.

In the run-up to the big day, visitors can head to the website to watch a movie, play some games, hear some music and learn about St. Nicholas, his elves and his sleigh. NORAD also has a presence at the North Pole (check out the Secret Santa Files).

You can go to NORAD’s tracking site here. 

Over at Google, it’s been only 12 years since Santa has been on their radar, literally, and they have pulled out all the Christmas stops this year.

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

Google also reminds users that you can search for Santa directly in Google Maps and google.com 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.

 This year, Santa’s Village has some new games – sliding penguins and dancing elves, as Google notes – in addition to games available only on the Android app.

“As we get closer to the big day, you can ask your Pixel device or Google Home "Where is Santa". The answer may surprise you,” Google says on the site.

While the two sites have different features, where the 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. 

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

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