By MIKE KALIL
The Union Leader
N.H. - SALEM - It wasn't eight tiny reindeer, but a police cruiser that took a Massachusetts man dressed as Santa Claus away from the Mall at Rockingham Park on Sunday, after he was arrested for dropping his pants in front of onlookers, police said.
If Richard Mullen, 52, of Malden, Mass., hadn't been wearing sweatpants under his Santa costume, he would be facing charges of indecent exposure rather than disorderly conduct for allegedly dropping his Santa pants multiple times in the Salem mall Sunday afternoon, Salem Police Capt. Robert Larsen said.
Mullen was released on $200 bail after the arrest and will be arraigned in Salem District Court at a later date.
Larsen said the pants-dropping was clearly intentional; it was not a costume defect. He said Mullen told police that he was just joking around, saying something to the effect of he was "just having some fun with the kids," Larsen said
Larsen said the pants-dropping was enough to make some people at the busy mall uncomfortable.
"He was pretty much cooperative with the officers, but based on his behavior, it's something that obviously alarmed a number of customers over there," Larsen said yesterday.
Security personnel at the mall reported the Santa to police around 2:45 p.m. after asking him to leave, Larsen said. Several customers had complained about the Santa to the security officers.
After investigating the incident, police said, they found Mullen, decked out in a Santa suit, driving in the mall parking lot. They stopped and arrested him, Larsen said. Mullen was taken to the police department for booking - still sporting the Santa costume.
"The behavior's a little odd," Larsen said. "We don't see that type of behavior very often."
Mullen was not employed as a mall Santa, Larsen said, and it was unclear yesterday why he was dressed as Saint Nick or how he ended up in Salem.
Michael Merrow, the mall's manager, did not return a phone call seeking comment yesterday on whether Mullen will be banned from the mall.