NORAD has made a holiday tradition of tracking Santa's journey across the globe since 1955, although its origins date back even further. In 1948, the Air Force reported that they'd detected "one unidentified sleigh, powered by eight reindeer, at 14,000 feet, heading 180 degrees." The story was picked up by the Associated Press and made national news.
Not much happened for the next few years, except an escalation in the Cold War. And at its height, the United States was doing a big PR campaign to help people understand the potential threat. FOr the kids, this meant the Santa Tracker. It was started by NORAD's predecessor agency (CONAD), but it's continued every year since.
This year, the threat of a partial government shutdown is looming. But the tradition will continue no matter what. And for a very simple reason. NORAD is a Defense Department agency, and the Defense Department will not be affected by any government shutdown. So even if some important government functions shut down, even if our National Parks are shuttered, the NORAD Santa Tracker will keep on going.
Follow Santa's journey across the globe here: NORADSanta.org