Parents were left “traumatised” and “disgusted” after a mayor told children Santa was too busy to visit them.
Mayor of Rushcliffe Christine Jeffreys made the comments at a Christmas lights switch-on in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, on Saturday.
One mum posted on Facebook the Conservative councillor said “mummy and daddy” would be helping out with presents this year.
Ms Jeffreys “apologised unreservedly” for any upset caused by her comments.
Nina Hudson, who took her daughter to the lights switch-on, said Ms Jeffreys made her speech to an “audience [who] were all under 10 years old”.
On Facebook, she wrote that the mayor told “all the kids that Santa was really busy this year so mum and dad would be helping out by putting all their presents under the tree”.
Ms Hudson then said the local councillor told the audience of children if they heard a noise in the night on Christmas Eve, “it’s just mummy and daddy”.
She said she was “traumatised” by the incident, and fellow mum Kate Smith said she was “totally incensed”.
On Facebook she wrote: “Our little girl turned and said ‘Is that true Mummy?'”
Richard Smith commented: “Talk about the Grinch who stole Christmas.”
Ms Jeffreys said in a statement: “I apologise unreservedly for the upset I have caused to those who attended the lights switch-on.
“Some of my words were said in error.
“I am deeply apologetic to anyone who was affected by what I said.”