Many of us undoubtedly were taught from a young age to not throw objects in public. However, this weekend the Indy Fuel are inviting - nay, encouraging - everyone in attendance at Indiana Farmers Coliseum to disregard that lesson.
The reason? The Teddy Bear Toss returns to Indianapolis Saturday as the Fuel host the Wichita Thunder. It's the third season this holiday tradition has taken place in the Circle City, and if the first two years of the heart-warming event are any indication, hockey fans are in for a real treat.
With its origins tracing back to Canadian junior leagues in the mid 1990s, the Teddy Bear Toss has quickly become a staple at all levels of amateur and minor league hockey. Its premise is simple - fans are invited to bring stuffed animals with them to the designated game, to eventually hurl onto the ice surface after the home team scores their first goal of the night.
Once that goal is scored, all of the plush artillery is collected, counted and ultimately donated to local charities, hospitals and youth organizations in time for the holidays. For as much fun as it can be to launch a giant stuffed bear from the second deck of a packed stadium - the reason the Teddy Bear Toss has become such a popular event year after year is because of the good it can do for the community.
In just two seasons, Fuel fans have collected a grand total of 7,698 stuffed animals - all of which have been donated to the RTV6 Toy Drive, the Community Health Network Foundation and other local organizations.
On Dec. 17, 2015, a first period goal from forward Alex Lavoie kicked off the first official Teddy Bear Toss in the city of Indianapolis, which dumped a total of 4,273 toys onto the Indiana Farmers Coliseum ice. Last year, in the face of a brutal ice storm, Fuel fans threw nearly 3,500 more after Alex Wideman found the net 12:38 into play.
While the event has been a hit since coming to Central Indiana, the standard for the Teddy Bear Toss has been set and maintained by the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. Since their first toss back in December of 1995, the Hitmen and their fans have collected a staggering 323,343 stuffed animals. In the past 10 years, Calgary has surpassed the 20,000 bear mark nine times, including a whopping 28,815 toys in 2016 - widely regarded as the world record for a Teddy Bear Toss. (Statistics from hitmenhockey.com)
Thinking of joining the fun Saturday as the Teddy Bear Toss returns to Indianapolis? Here are a few tips and tricks to help make the most of this fun event:
Bring Multiple Bears: There's no rule limiting fans to one stuffed animal! It is not rare to see fans enter the building slinging giant bag full of fuzzy friends that puts Santa's sack to shame! The more animals that make it on the ice, the more toys delivered to local kids this holiday season!
Share Your Bears: Do your arms runneth over with teddy bears? Give one to a nearby fan or child without anything to throw. The Teddy Bear Toss is more fun when everyone can get involved!
Bring A Friend: Are you a seasoned Teddy Bear Tosser? This year, take a friend, neighbor, family member, coworker or anyone else who might not have experienced this event before.
Bag Your Bears: While there is something majestic about seeing a teddy bear fly freely over the glass, clean-up can sometimes take up to 15-20 minutes, and a stuffed animal sitting on the snow and ice can get wet and soggy. Consider wrapping your bears in plastic bags before throwing them to ensure they stay dry throughout the night. Bags will be available at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum lobby.
Stay For The Jersey Auction: For the first time, the Fuel will be wearing special teddy bear-themed jerseys during the Teddy Bear Toss! Each of the game-worn sweaters will be up for grabs at a live auction at the end of the night. All of the jersey proceeds will benefit local cancer patients through the Community Health Network Foundation!
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