Bears shower the Thunderbirds game for the annual Teddy Bear Toss

Bears shower the Thunderbirds game for the annual Teddy Bear Toss
Published: Dec. 10, 2022 at 10:40 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -It was a near sellout crowd at Saturday’s Thunderbirds game and the ice looked a little different after the team’s first goal. The rink was showered with teddy bears earlier tonight, all to support a good cause this holiday season.

It’s an annual tradition that both fans and players look forward to every year.

“No matter what, every child should have something for Christmas. I just know that we try to do our part no matter what it is,” said Dan Ernst of Chicopee.

Fans, like Ernst, brought teddy bears to Saturday’s Thunderbirds game to toss onto the ice to celebrate the team’s first goal against the Milwaukee Admirals.

Ernst told Western Mass News he and his grandson collected about twenty five bears to throw on the ice Saturday night.

The team works with several charities, like the YMCA and the Family Center, to distribute the bears collected at Saturdy’s game to local children in need.

Thunderbirds president Nathan Costa said the team’s annual event brings excitement for both players and fans.

“I think the fans love it. I mean it’s a good thing around Christmas and the holidays to be able to do and give back,” Costa said.

Last year, the team collected more than 5,000 stuffed animals for local kids in need and they’re hoping for even more donations this year.

Ernst told Western Mass News why he donates to the cause:

“I had 30 years in the military and I had seen it a lot that way and also people giving to the military and so now it’s my turn to give back,” he said.

Now that the bears have been collected, the team will work with Square One and local charities to make sure these bears get in the hands of local children in need this holiday season.