Ice Hockey Fans Break Teddy Bear Toss Record

The tossed bears are distributed to organizations in central Pennsylvania.

Jan 24, 2024


Ice Hockey Fans Break Teddy Bear Toss Record | The tossed bears are distributed to organizations in central Pennsylvania.

Hockey fans in Hershey, Pennsylvania broke a new record in one of the cutest sports events ever. In a plush pandemonium, fans of the Hershey Bears – the oldest team in the American Hockey League (AHL) – threw 74,599 teddy bears and other plush animals unto the ice in the annual Teddy Bear Toss, according to a news report on the city’s website. All the stuffed animals are given to local charities.

The Teddy Bear Toss began in 2001 and since then the minor league  hockey team has distributed 464, 107 teddy bears to children across the Central Pennsylvania area. The previous highest total was 67,309 stuffed animals collected from the ice in 2023, according to ABC27WHTM.

How it works
Teddy Bear Tosses are not unique to the Hershey Bears. Many junior ice hockey and minor league teams have them at a home game around the holidays. Fans are encouraged to bring the stuffed animals and throw them on the ice when the home team scores its first goal.

The Hershey Bears held its toss during a home game on January 7, 2024 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, according to the news report. The teams  first goal was scored in the second period by Bogdan Trineyev and it was followed by a gigantic number of adorable stuffed animals – large and small –  being thrown on the ice.

“It was a very cool vantage point,” Bears defenseman Chase Priskie, who assisted on the goal, said in the news report. “You see our arena tonight, you see every seat in the stands absolutely full, you see the teddy bears waiting to be thrown - so there's a lot of excitement to score that goal. And for us, it's a well-talked-about event; you don't really know what to expect until you're in that moment. And then when you're in it, it's one of the cooler moments in pro hockey that I've been a part of.”

It's a tradition that the fans and players love, according to an AHL news release“It is shocking,” Hershey’s head coach Todd Nelson said in the news release; You see it on video, on YouTube, but when you’re actually part of it, it was amazing. Just an incredible sight. The players had a lot of fun with it, and it was for a great cause.”

But the bears still have a game to play. “There’s a lot of hype that goes around the event,” Priskie told AHL. “You don’t want to get too caught up and forget that you actually have a game to play and have two points on the line.

After the bears were removed from the ice by volunteers, including the team members, the game resumed 50-minutes later. The home team fell behind in the third quarter but rallied to a three-two overtime win.

What’s next?
The toys are donated by the team to 35 local charities as part of the Hershey Bears Cares program. In addition, the Sweigart Family Foundation also donated $55,000 to the  Children’s Miracle Network Hershey as a recognition of the local fans.

Hershey Bears Cares is a charitable initiative that makes giving back to the community a priority. Established in 2018, the initiative’s programs and events promote health, wellness, literacy and other ways to help the local community. Many of the players and coaches actively volunteer in the projects which in addition to the Teddy Bear Toss include visits to hospitals, jersey auctions, and hosting soldiers and veterans at games.

But none are as much fun as seeing thousands of teddy bears thrown on the ice by fans who are showing their love of the team and of their community. It’s time to break the record again in 2025!

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.