Experiencing the Hershey Bears’ Teddy Bear Toss Game

Photo: Della Young/NoVa Caps

I had planned for it for over a month, and as time drew closer, the excitement was brewing. It would be my first Teddy Bear Toss Game—my first Hershey Bears game—and I couldn’t wait to experience it all.

My dad and I made the three-and-a-half-hour trip north Sunday morning. It had been years since I was in the Hershey area. When we arrived at Giant Center, before we parked, I saw LED signs informing the Bears game was sold out, which excited me even more. There’s nothing like a full house.

I donned my Tom Wilson jersey and my dad wore his Alex Ovechkin one. We had a bear each to throw. We were ready.

The atmosphere was similar to Capital One Arena—enthusiastic and energetic yet more intimate in the smaller setting. Our seats were where the Bears shot twice, so I always had my camera rolling for that teddy bear-tossing goal.

After the Bears didn’t score in the first period, I was confident it would happen in the middle frame. Giant Center erupted with every Bears’ shot and close goal.

The biggest difference I noticed from that in an NHL game is that AHL players don’t shoot as much. The crowd was constantly shouting for players to shoot (clearly to initiate the toss), but it was much slower than the Capitals games.

I was getting nervous after the second period, still clutching my bear and hoping the Bears would score in the last twenty minutes. At that point, I didn’t care if it was a win or loss.

With roughly three minutes left, down by two goals, and thousands and thousands of stuffed animals still in the stands, fans were asked not to throw anything until after the game. A chorus of boos rang out, and some fans even got up to leave.

The next thing I knew, bears and stuffed animals were getting tossed onto the ice. I remember looking up to see how much time was left: five seconds.

Okay, well, here we go then.

I apologize if you get seasick watching these videos. Trying to get footage while navigating bears being thrown at me was quite the challenge:

Bears staff and players began bringing the clear bags out as stuffed animals continued to be tossed:

Probably my favorite video I captured during the evening would be Dylan McIlrath and Vincent Iorio launching into a massive pile of stuffed bears:

A quick stop at the (jam-packed) Bears store, and it was a wrap on the evening.

Regardless of the unprecedented shutout loss on Teddy Bear Toss night, 67,309 stuffed animals were thrown on the ice and would all be donated to local charities. The Bears set a new world record (again!) and I’m so happy to have been a part of this.

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter who earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University in 2021. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Screenwriting from Regent University. Della comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for hockey in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
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