Air Guard's Northeast Air Defense Sector provide support for NORAD's annual Christmas Eve mission
Air Guard's Northeast Air Defense Sector provide support for NORAD's annual Christmas Eve mission. US Air Force

The North American Aerospace Defense Command is getting ready to track Santa's 2011 journey. The NORAD Tracks Santa website went live on Thursday, featuring a countdown calendar, a kid's countdown village with holiday games and activities that changes daily and video messages from students and troops from around the world.

With the addition of Brazilian Portuguese, the website is now available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese.

This year, parents and children can also countdown the days until Santa's take off on their smart phones using free applications in the Apple iTunes Store and the Android Market. Santa can also be tracked on Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and Twitter.

Starting at midnight MST on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa as he makes all the preparations for his flight. Then, at 4 a.m. MST, trackers worldwide can talk to a live phone operator to inquire about Santa's whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to NORAD's Santa Cams will also stream videos as Santa makes his way over various locations worldwide.

The program began on December 24, 1955 when a Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper which told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. However, the telephone number printed was incorrect and calls instead came through to Colorado Springs' Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Shoup, who was on duty that night, told his staff to give all children that called in a current location for Santa Claus. A tradition began which continued when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) replaced CONAD in 1958.

Watch a recap of Santa's 2010 trip around the world: