ABERDARE, Wales, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Witnesses said there were "a lot of tears" from kids when Santa left a Welsh parade in the back of a police van, but police said St. Nick just needed a ride.
Some spectators criticized parade organizers in Aberdare for having Santa Claus get out of his sleigh and climb into the back of a police riot van at the end of Saturday's parade, leaving children concerned the beloved Christmas icon was being taken to jail.
"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,'" witness Jade Hughes said. "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."
Hughes captured video of Santa boarding the van.
A South Wales Police spokesman said the police van had seemed like the safest way to transport Santa at the end of the event.
"Santa obviously has a busy month ahead," the spokesman said. "So when he asked if we could provide transport at the end of his sleigh ride through Aberdare town center to help him get back to the North Pole, we were happy to oblige."
A spokesman for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council also defended Santa's mode of transport.
"We are grateful to South Wales Police for assisting Father Christmas during his departure from Aberdare town center 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 center 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."