The Teddy bear toss in hockey is an event in which fans bring teddy bears to throw onto the ice when the home team scores their first goal. The stuffed animals are then collected and given out to local charities and hospitals.
Teddy bear toss games will be largely advertised to the public ahead of time. When advertising for these games the team will ask fans to bring as many stuffed animals as they can to throw onto the ice.
The majority of these stuffed animals are teddy bears but most teams will accept other stuffed animals as well. Since these toys are going to charity the team wants as many stuffed animals thrown onto the ice as possible.
For this reason, many stadiums will ignore their policies on bringing bags into the arena in order to allow fans to bring garbage bags full of stuffed animals.
In most cases, the teddy bear toss is something that is done in junior and lower level professional leagues of hockey. Unfortunately, the National Hockey League does not condone throwing objects onto the ice so the teddy bear toss does not happen at this level of hockey.
When Did It Start?
The Teddy Bear Toss started in 1993 with the Kamloops Blazers. The Kamloops Blazers are a Canadian hockey team that plays in the Western Hockey League.
In 1993 the team’s head of marketing Don Larson came up with the idea to tell fans to bring teddy bears to the game and throw them on the ice. The hopes were that when the home team scored their first goal a few hundred teddy bears would be thrown onto the ice.
When the first goal was scored teddy bears began to fly onto the ice from all sections of the stadium creating a much bigger pile of stuffed animals than was expected.
Due to the success of this night, the Teddy bear toss became a regular event for the Kamloops Blazers. Following the success of this event teams all across the world began to take part in the Teddy bear toss.
The teddy bear toss is now done in many hockey arenas all around the world but remains the most popular in North America.
Though due to the covid 19 pandemic many teams have put a halt to this tradition for the 2020 and 2021 hockey seasons.
Where do the bears from the teddy bear toss go?
Though most fans know that the bears in the teddy bear toss go to charities many are not sure exactly what sort of charities these stuffed animals go to.
When the tradition first started the teddy bears would simply be donated to local hospitals, mainly for children. Oftentimes the players on the hockey team that hosted the event would go to the hospital and drop off the stuffed animals as well.
As this event grew so did the number of charities that these toys went. The largest teddy bear toss included a total of 52,341 stuffed animals at a Hershey Bears game.
This amount of stuffed animals is way more than the hospitals in the area need. For this reason, the giveaway of these toys was expanded to boys and girls clubs and other charities that focused on youth.
One way or another these teddy bears find their way into the hands of children who deserve them.