Hershey Bears set Teddy Bear Toss record with 34,798 collected for charity

The Hershey Bears set a Teddy Bear Toss record over the weekend thanks to generous fans. (Screenshot: Hershey Bears/Great Save Productions)
The Hershey Bears set a Teddy Bear Toss record over the weekend thanks to generous fans. (Screenshot: Hershey Bears/Great Save Productions)

It’s arguably the most heartwarming activity on the holiday hockey calendar and for its 25th birthday this month, the Teddy Bear Toss was presented a new record holder.

The Hershey Bears, American Hockey League affiliate of the Washington Capitals, set the event world record by collecting 34,798 stuffed animals during its annual Teddy Bear Toss at Giant Center on Sunday. The Bears defeated the visiting Binghamton Devils, 6-3, and experienced a pleasant storm of animals at 9:58 of the first period when Riley Barber put back a rebound.

A crowd of 10,046 threw the stuffed animals on to the ice, attaining the record the Bears were pushing for with its #Hershey30kchallenge and help from the local Old Barn Hockey radio show.

It broke the previous record of 28,815 thrown by 19,289 fans of the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen in 2015. Hershey’s previous high was 25,017 set last year, as more and more stuffed animals are being thrown at venues during the season of giving.

The Bears PR team, P.A. announcer Jarrod Wronski, and area station WTKT 1460, led by Old Barn Hockey co-host Brock Kerchner, made a social media push for the record. The bear count breaks down to three per person, though some brought far more to contribute.

Nathan Walker, who scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, went back to the locker room to add his very large bear to the total.

Connor Hobbs and teammates played in the stuffed animal pack before they were bagged up, counted and packed for area charities.

The team said the bears are being donated to more than 30 local charities including schools, churches, lions clubs, the American Cancer Society, Children’s Miracle Network and Milton Hershey School.

The Teddy Bear Toss is believed to have originated with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers on Dec. 5, 1993, though the general manager from those years credits the Regina Pats. (The Pats credit the Blazers, so we may never know.)

It’s now an annual tradition for most minor league teams as well as Canadian major-junior games and college games from Division I down to Division III.

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