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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘A big family event’: Thousands of stuffed animals shower onto the ice at the Spokane Chiefs’ Teddy Bear Toss

The Spokane Chiefs didn’t win their 6-3 game against the Prince George Cougars Saturday night, but they did score this year.

And when they did, thousands of stuffed animals rained down on the ice at the Arena for the Chiefs’ annual Teddy Bear Toss game.

It was a welcome departure from 2022 when the Chiefs didn’t score , complicating the annual toy-tossing ritual. But bears weren’t the only stuffies catapulted onto the ice this year. There were all sorts of stuffed animals, including bright blue unicorns, sparkly dinosaurs and even a rainbow worm that got stuck on the protective glass.

Students from Mt. Spokane, Freeman and East Valley high schools collected the fuzzy toys and loaded them onto five pickup trucks. The 6,569 teddy bears will be donated to the Christmas Bureau.

Christmas Bureau Coordinator Heid Meany dropped the ceremonial first puck.

“We are super excited to partner with the Spokane Chiefs again this year; they are an amazing organization,” Meany said in an interview.

For many, the Teddy Bear Toss is more than just a hockey game – it’s a tradition.

“Our Teddy Bear Toss is probably our most popular game for the first half of the season,” said Jay Stewart, vice president of operations and sponsorships with the Chiefs.

For Lydia Meyers, wearing a red Chiefs jersey, it’s a “big family event.”

“(My sister) buys tickets for the whole family, and we all come together,” Meyers said. “We’ve got six with us this year.”

Meyers said her family members are definitely Chiefs fans, but the Teddy Bear Toss is usually the only game they attend.

Meyers has been coming to the Teddy Bear Toss game for 30 years, since she was little and used to come with her dad.

“Now I bring my kids,” she said.

Meyers’ daughter, Lily, came with a garbage bag of stuffed animals.

Amy Lightbody came with a gray stuffed elephant, a brown and white stuffed puppy, and a strategy.

“You have to throw it really hard, you have to have it high to get it over,” she said.

Lightbody also had a tactic for choosing stuffed animals for the toss: the heavier, the better.

“It’s so it can get thrown over the poles,” she said, “otherwise they just fall.”

The toss was definitely a team effort. As spectators hurled their stuffed animals as far as they could, some inevitably didn’t make it and were helped along by fans. More than 10 minutes after the Chiefs scored, a few stragglers were still flying through the air.

Lightbody said she enjoys coming to the Teddy Bear Toss each year.

“I just love that they’re giving back to the community, and it’s a fun community event,” she said.


The Christmas Bureau is run by Catholic Charities, The Spokesman-Review and Volunteers of America, but it is the generous support of the community that keeps it going year after year. $600,000 is this year’s goal. The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund sits at $114,734.19, thanks to recent donations totaling $10,261.39.

Donna Sweeny sent $2,000 via PayPal.

An anonymous donor sent $1,500.

Cyrus and Janet Vaughn donated $1,000. James Knight, of Deer Park, sent $1,000.

Richard Funge and Margaret Farris sent $600. “Merry Christmas to all,” they wrote.

Steven and Lorrie McNutt, Steve and Linda Swartley, Delila Draper and Robert and Deborah Glaza each sent $500.

An anonymous donor sent $300, writing, “Happy December!”

Bryce and Cheryl Backus donated $300, as did John and Sindra Barber.

Bob and Cil LaFountain sent $200. Jacqueline and James Vroman donated $200 as well.

Beth Schomburg donated $125, as did Naomi Franklin.

Harley and Melanie Reckord sent $100. Robert Yinger donated $100 through PayPal.

Theresa Schimmels sent $50 “In memory of my parents Gary and Myrna Schimmels.”

Warren and Joni Omans, Barbara and Gregg Pryde, Susan and Spencer Shaw and Rocky and Bonnie Elliott each sent $50.

Sheri Barnard donated $50. “Thank you for continuing this gift to our community every year!” she wrote.

Evelyn Graves, of Medical Lake, sent $50, writing, “In memory of Bill, John and Anne Graves.”

Gary and Jan Huguenin gave $50.

“Blessing to all,” Donald Tuttle wrote with a donation of $50.

Shirley and Robert Hillhouse sent $25.

Roberta Simonson's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.