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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Can we get 8,605? Teddy Bear Toss set to return to Spokane Arena during Chiefs game on Dec. 4

By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

If you purchased teddy bears for the annual Spokane Chiefs Teddy Bear Toss last year and had to put them in the closet after hockey games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to dig them out. The Teddy Bear Toss is on this season and will be held during the Spokane Chiefs game Saturday, Dec. 4, against the Seattle Thunderbirds at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

The tradition is that fans send thousands of teddy bears and other stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes raining down on the ice after the Chiefs score their first goal. In 2019, a record 8,604 stuffed animals hit the ice, some of them nearly life sized. The bears are then scooped up, loaded into trucks and delivered to the Christmas Bureau.

The Christmas Bureau is a collaboration between Catholic Charities, the Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review, raising money to pay for food vouchers for families in need at Christmas, plus a toy and book for each child. The bears retrieved from the ice on Teddy Bear Toss night go home to children who need a toy for Christmas.

Last year the Spokane Chiefs sold special “T is for Toys” T-shirts featuring their mascot, Boomer the Bear, to raise money for the Christmas Bureau in lieu of the Teddy Bear Toss. The team sold 118 shirts and donated $648 to the Christmas Bureau.

This year the toss is scheduled for the first day the Bureau will be open at the Spokane County Interstate Fairgrounds. The Bureau runs through Dec. 16. “We try to time it to where we can collect the bears and get them out to the fairgrounds,” said Jay Stewart, the team’s vice president of sponsorships. “The next date we had was Dec. 17 and that was much, much too late.”

Each year the Teddy Bear Toss usually sells out, but this year has been a little different, Stewart said. Those attending the games are required to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID PCR test in the previous 72 hours. “It’s hard to gauge,” Stewart said of game night attendance. “I think Saturday, Dec. 4, we should have a pretty good crowd.”

There are still tickets available for Teddy Bear Toss night at spokanechiefs.com. Prices range from $18 to $37 for adults and $11 for children. There are discounts for seniors, students and those with a military ID.

“It’s usually one of our biggest crowds,” Stewart said. “It’s always fun and festive and just a different type of atmosphere in here than it is any other night.”

Stewart said he’s happy that Teddy Bear Toss is back on this year and he believes the fans will agree. “We’re miles ahead of where we were last year,” he said. “It’s real nice to be able to do some normal things and throwing teddy bears out on the ice is certainly that.”

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