GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As Cool Insuring Arena gets further into the Adirondack Thunder’s post-COVID return season, there are a lot of little traditions to dust off along the way. One of those is coming right up. On Saturday, when you come to see some hockey, bring a bear.
On Tuesday, the Thunder announced the return of the annual Teddy Bear Toss game for this Saturday. The game is a collection drive, where hockey fans can bring a teddy bear to throw into the rink after the first goal is scored. Once that happens, Thunder players skate across the ice, collecting donated bears as they hit the rink, to give to the Glens Falls Salvation Army.
“I think it’s turned into a holiday tradition,” said Glens Falls Salvation Army Capt. Leo Lloyd. “I was warned about it by my predecessor. He said, ‘There’s a special night in Glens Falls.'”
Lloyd was joined by Adirondack Thunder Captain Alex Loh, and team captain Pete McArthur. This Saturday, the team will give Lloyd’s Salvation Army chapter the collected bears, to be given to families around the region who are struggling to get Christmas gifts for their children.
“It really puts into perspective all the kids that need help,” said Loh. “There’s a lot of people out there that need our help, so I think that the Teddy Bear Toss is a great reminder of making sure we help our community.”
In the Teddy Bear Toss’ sixth year, that help comes with no time to spare. Lloyd said the Salvation Army has seen 30% more people sign up for its Angel Tree Christmas program this year. He didn’t entirely expect that, and said that the application has been left open longer than was planned; all in the name of making Christmas real for kids whose families don’t have much to give.
Next to Lloyd at the press conference, Loh held his 11-month-old daughter, donning a tiny Adirondack Thunder jersey. Lloyd said it reminded him of his own daughter, Rachel.
“She was one of those little girls who dragged her stuffed animal with her everywhere,” Lloyd said. “He was a little black dog named ‘Blacky.'”
That memory is part of what fuels the Glens Falls Salvation Army to put at least one stuffed animal in every basket they send to a family through the Angel Tree program. Visitors who want to make sure they have a bear to throw can buy a special ticket four-pack that includes four teddy bears, as well as two Sky Zone jump passes.
The game this Saturday starts at 7 p.m., against the Maine Mariners. For the players, the toss is a way to give back to the community that’s been crowding arena seats to see their hometown team play again.
“It’s a different year this year, where we’re not able to interact the same way with fans,” said McArthur. “So hopefully we get quite a few teddy bears on the ice on Saturday, and we can get some smiles on the faces of some kids who maybe don’t have the same opportunities that we do.”