ABERDARE, Wales – Santa Claus wasn’t thinking of appearances when he left a recent Christmas parade.

It turned out Father Christmas needed a ride home after the parade and the local police agreed to give him a lift – in the back of the riot van.

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“Police officers said they were helping Santa Claus to get back to the North Pole as he had a ‘busy month ahead of him,'” the South Wales Evening Post reports, but children weren’t buying it.

After all, Santa was there with his reindeer.

“There were a lot tears – people couldn’t believe it actually happened. My four-year-old cousin started crying saying, ‘Santa can’t bring me toys now,'” parent Jade Hughes says.

“It was a fantastic event until a police van reversed the whole length of Market Street and took Santa away.

“It left a lot children upset because they thought he had been arrested. There was a lot of very upset kids thinking Santa wouldn’t be around for them,” she tells Wales Online.

Police and city spokesmen defended Santa’ method of exit, saying, “Santa obviously has a busy month ahead, so when he asked if we could provide transport at the end of his sleigh ride through Aberdare town centre to help him get back to the North Pole, we were happy to oblige.”

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A spokesman for Rhondda Cynon Taf council tells the news service, “We are grateful to South Wales Police for assisting Father Christmas during his departure from Aberdare town centre after an amazing Christmas event, which was enjoyed by thousands of people.

“It was always part of the arrangements to transport Father Christmas out of the town centre in a vehicle provided by South Wales Police as quickly and as safely as possible as he has a busy few weeks ahead of him.”

But that was lost on the crowd.

Shouts of “Santa’s being arrested!” could be heard while he got into the van.

“Children started crying while some just looked on in disbelief. It was a fab event until then,” Hughes says.

In a video of the incident, Santa can be seen waving to the crowd before getting into the back of the van.