2005 Calgary Hitmen teddy bear toss
2005 Calgary Hitmen teddy bear toss

The teddy bear toss is a popular Christmas season promotion most common at junior ice hockey and minor league hockey games. Fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears or other stuffed toys to the game, and to throw them onto the ice when the home team scores its first goal. The toys are gathered up to be donated as presents to hospitals and charities. In many cases, the players themselves personally donate some of the bears to children at area hospitals.[1][2] The Hershey Bears claim a world record of 52,341 stuffed toys in a single game.[3]

History

The concept originated with the Kamloops Blazers in 1993, thanks to marketing director Don Larson.[4] The first recorded teddy bear toss occurred on December 5, 1993, when a goal by Brad Lukowich prompted fans to throw over 2,400 bears onto the ice.[1][2] The tradition spread quickly through the Canadian Hockey League, and around the world; excluding the National Hockey League, which discourages anything thrown on the ice.[1][2]

Notable games

In North America

2006 Spokane Chiefs teddy bear toss
2006 Spokane Chiefs teddy bear toss

The Calgary Hitmen set a then record of 28,815 stuffed toys in a single game, on December 6, 2015 at Scotiabank Saddledome, then collected a record of 29,935 stuffed toys in a single game, on December 3, 2018.[5][6][7] The annual event has collected almost 350,000 bears in Calgary as of early December 2018.[2]

On December 3, 2017, the Hershey Bears collected 25,017 stuffed animals.[8] In the following season, Hershey beat the previous mark by collecting 34,798 stuffed animals on December 2, 2018.[9][10] The event also inspired philanthropists in Hershey to pledge cash donations per toy collected.[2] On December 1, 2019, the Hershey Bears set a record of 45,650 stuffed toys collected in a single game; tossing and collecting the stuffed animals held up the game for 40 minutes.[11] The toys were split among 40 central Pennsylvania charities.[12] The Hershey Bears collected 52,341 stuffed animals on January 22, 2022, claiming a new world record, after the team did not host teddy bear toss games in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

Around the world

The teddy bear toss spread to Australia on June 28, 2014 at Medibank Ice house in Melbourne. The Melbourne Ice collected 306 toys as part of the Canada Day celebration events.[13]

On December 27, 2017 Luleå HF brought the tradition to Sweden, with a 3–1 over Mora IK.[14] Bears were donated to a hospital in Södra Sunderbyn, the Woman's Journal in Lulea, and other charities.[14]

Several teams in the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom organize an annual "Air the Bear" night in advance of Christmas to collect toys for local charities and hospitals.[15]

Other sports

The teddy bear toss spread to Italian basketball and made its Lega Basket Serie A debut in 2014.[16][17]

Australian soccer team Newcastle Jets held its inaugural teddy bear toss in December 2019.[18]

References

  1. ^ a b c Pinchevsky, Tal (December 21, 2016). "How the teddy bear toss became hockey's furriest -- and most fun -- phenomenon". ESPN. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ground, Stephen (December 9, 2018). "The Teddy Bear Toss: From Kamloops to Hershey". The Hockey Writers. The Hockey Writers. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Gearty, Alec (January 23, 2022). "Hershey hockey fans set world record in Teddy Bear Toss game". New York Post. New York, New York. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  4. ^ Donnelly, Adam (December 5, 2016). "Kamloops Blazers teddy toss tradition for local fans". CFJC Today. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Brick Teddy Bear Toss". Calgary Hitmen. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  6. ^ Parker, Lisa MacGregor and Brendan. "Hitmen fans break records in annual Teddy Bear Toss". Global News. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  7. ^ Pirie, Jason (December 5, 2015). "Stallard goal makes teddy confetti, Hitmen down Broncos". hitmenhockey.com. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  8. ^ Cantlon, Kyle (December 4, 2017). "Fans make it rain teddy bears in Hershey". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  9. ^ Fisch, Zack (December 2, 2018). "Watch the Hershey Bears break teddy bear toss world record as 34,798 hit the ice for charity". PennLive. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  10. ^ Wyshynski, Greg (December 2, 2018). "AHL's Hershey Bears set Teddy Bear Toss record, collecting 34,798 toys". ESPN. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  11. ^ Lavey-Heaton, Megan (December 1, 2019). "Hershey Bears' teddy bear toss shatters world record as 45,650 stuffed animals hit the ice for charity". PennLive. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  12. ^ Andrew, Scottie (December 2, 2019). "Fans pelted more than 45,000 stuffed animals at a Pennsylvania hockey team -- for charity, of course". CNN. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  13. ^ Brook, Eric (July 2, 2014). "Sydney Bears Crash Melbourne Ice's Teddy Bear Picnic". Hewitt Sports. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Jonathan Larsson (December 28, 2017). "Oväntade bilderna – det regnar in nallar" (in Swedish). Expressen. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  15. ^ "Over 8,000 toys donated to charities". Elite Ice Hockey League. December 24, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  16. ^ Ferraro, Raffaele (December 12, 2014). "Teddy Bear Toss: Istruzioni per l'uso" (in Italian). La Giornata Tipo. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  17. ^ Degrassi, Roberto (December 16, 2018). "Alma Trieste perfetta: vola a 110 e travolge Avellino" (in Italian). Il Piccolo Trieste. Retrieved December 17, 2018.closed access
  18. ^ Gardiner, James (December 16, 2019). "Jets CEO to push for teddy bear toss to spread to other A-League clubs". Newcastle Herald. Newcastle: Australian Community Media. Retrieved December 18, 2019.