The Calgary Hitmen are a major junior hockey team in the Western Hockey League that carries on a rather cool winter holiday tradition. Sixteen years ago, The Hitmen (who got their name via co-founder and pro wrestling legend Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart) launched – and we mean launched – the Teddy Bear Toss. Fans are encouraged to bring brand new teddy bears to a specific home game at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and after the first goal is scored, the play on the ice stops and the play in the stands commences.
Basically, the fans toss the bears onto the ice, or as close to the ice as the fans in the upper decks can hurl them. Obliging fans lower down complete the teddy bear relay, while sweepers on the ice collect the bears while doing their best to avoid getting beaned in the noggin. Following the deluge, the bears are distributed to various charities in the city, and a few are personally delivered to children’s hospitals by members of the team.
In 2007, a record was set when 26,919 bears were collected. This year didn’t quite hit that peak, but hey, it’s a global recession, right? Still, 23,096 kids are happier as a result, and it’s testimony to how eager people are to participate in charitable causes if you give them a chance to have a little fun with it. Enjoy.