When it rains teddy bears

What do 34,798 teddy bears look like?

Ask people who were at the arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania on the weekend. They had their Teddy Bear Toss, and that is how many teddy bears filled the sky (and the arena).

I have been to a number of Teddy Bear Tosses over the years, almost always in my role as a newspaper photographer. There have been a few moments to remember.

The first thing to realize about Teddy Bear Toss games is that you have no idea how long you’re going to have to wait to get the picture of the bears raining down from the skies. The same goes for the fans (just not the waiting for the picture part).

Sometimes they get a little impatient. One year, the home team hadn’t scored in the first two periods, and were trailing 2-0. About five minutes into the third, a fight started on the ice and some of the fans, showing a total lack of confidence in the home team, decided to throw their bears.

That led to more fans throwing bears, which then led, of course, to a delay in the game while the bears were picked up.

Then, two minutes later, the home team scored to make it 2-1 and the rest of the bears came out. More delays, the home team loses 2-1, and the coach mentioned after the game how hard it was for the team to keep the momentum going with so many stoppages in the third period.

In other words, without saying so, the fans were stupid for causing extra delays by throwing the bears when they weren’t supposed to.

I also remember a few year ago in Prince George, when the game was on a Saturday night and I was also volunteering for Operation Red Nose. On Friday night, I told the people at Red Nose I might be late the next night because of the Teddy Bear Toss.

The Cougars scored two minutes into the game, I got my photo, and was at Operation Red Nose earlier than normal.

I also remember seeing the easiest way to tell a veteran goalie in the WHL. The visiting goalie gave up a goal, then immediately backed into the net.

He knew there was about to be a rain of teddy bears coming down.