Father Christmas left children in tears after he left a festive reindeer parade – in a police riot van.
Kids feared they wouldn't get any presents after watching Santa climb inside the police van to leave the event in Aberdare town centre, Cynon Valley, rather than taking his sleigh.
However, concerns that he was a Bad Santa were dispelled by police who said he hadn't been arrested and simply needed a ride home as he has a busy few weeks ahead.
But parents were furious at the 'ill-judged' stunt.
Jade Hughes, 20, from Maerdy, told Wales Online: "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. 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 added: "It was a great family day but we were very let down by this error.
"Santa was there with the reindeer waving in his sleigh. Then the police van reversed, the side door was opened."
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A spokesman for South Wales Police said: "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."
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council revealed that transporting Father Christmas in a police van had always been part of the plan, so he could make a swift exit.
A spokesman said: "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."
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