Pembroke's police chief is defending the arrest and handcuffing of Santa Claus on a traffic violation as he was on his way to deliver Christmas trees to the needy, a published report said Wednesday.

Santa Claus, who is known without his red suit and white beard as Paul Dubois of Manchester, was arrested on Dec. 20 because Pembroke police believed the 1,610 lights that decorated his truck constituted a traffic hazard."He did a good job on the truck; that truck looked beautiful," Chief Lucien Bouffard told the Union Leader of Manchester newspaper. "But he's not coming down Route 3 at 35-40 miles an hour with a ball of lights - this guy could cause an accident."

Dubois was arrested for improper lighting and operating after suspension. He was released on $300 personal recognizance pending a court hearing on Jan. 21.