LOCAL

'His legacy': Granddaughter of biker Santa takes the handlebars

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Ted Kauffman celebrated Christmas all year long.

Thousands of Santa Claus decorations lay scattered throughout his living room year-round. His love of all things merry and bright culminated in the biggest event of his family's year: his annual Santa Claus motorcycle ride.

Donning a bright red Santa suit and trading a sleigh for a motorcycle, Kauffman delivered toys to York County children for 13 years.

Ted Kauffman, dressed like Santa Claus, organized holiday motorcycle rides for 13 years. Photo courtesy of Danielle Staggers.

"He just loved being Santa Claus," said his granddaughter, Danielle Staggers. "He meant so much to my family and to our county — he's been doing this forever."

But Kauffman died in July of 2021.

Although his death was a heartbreaking loss for Staggers and her family, she knew she needed to continue her grandfather's tradition. Staggers will take the reins — or handlebars — this year to organize York's next Santa Claus motorcycle ride.

The event is slated to start at noon Saturday at the West Manchester Township Walmart, located at 1000 Town Center Drive.

Staggers' group will head west on Route 30 down to Budget Furniture, 1000 Roosevelt Ave., where they will hand out gifts. Then they'll ride up to Morning Sun Marketplace, 5309 Lincoln Highway, for another round of gift giving.

Danielle Staggers is shown with stuffed Disney toys and a shirt, now made into a pillow, that once belonged to her late grandfather Ted Kauffman, at her home in Manchester Township, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Staggers has organized a Santa Claus ride to honor Kauffman, who hosted the event for many years. Kauffman died in July of 2021, and after finding his ride book, Staggers decided to “take charge” and organize a ride this year. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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"This is something that meant a lot to my grandpa," Staggers said. "I’m really hoping that I can fill his shoes, because these are some big shoes to fill."

Though Staggers doesn't ride a motorcycle, she will drive alongside 30 bikers in a reindeer-decorated car.

She recruited bikers from a book Kauffman kept up until his passing — a collection of names and numbers of friends who rode alongside Kauffman for years.

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"He was so organized. He had their names, their numbers and what they rode," Staggers said. "They were like, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm so happy to hear from you.' They were just excited to take part in it and participate."

Ahead of the event, Staggers made sure to contact the West Manchester Township Police Department to escort the group.

Danielle Staggers is shown near a memorial for her late grandfather that she displays in her Manchester Township home, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Staggers has organized a Santa Claus ride to honor the memory of her grandfather, Ted Kauffman, who hosted the event for many years. Kauffman died in July of 2021, and after finding his ride book, Staggers decided to “take charge” and organize a ride. Dawn J. Sagert photo

She added that she's looking forward to seeing everyone out on Saturday.

"I wanted to live up his legacy and make sure that I do this in his honor, because I know that he's definitely smiling down above at me and proud of me," Staggers said. "This was his pride and joy; we know how much it meant to him. So I think that's why I want to do it for him."