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Mariners plan drive-thru 'Teddy Bear Toss' in lieu of traditional on-ice event

The drive-thru event is in addition to a month-long stuffed animal drive. Donations this year benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine.
Credit: Courtesy Maine Mariners
Beacon the Puffin collects teddy bears tossed onto the ice during last year's event.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Mariners' annual “Teddy Bear Toss” will take on a new look this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s toss will be a drive-thru event outside of the Cross Insurance Arena on December 5.

Traditionally, fans throw stuffed animals on the ice after the home team’s first goal. Last year, Mariners fans tossed 1,523 bears onto the ice after Jake Elmer scored the first goal of the game.

The drive-thru event is in addition to a month-long stuffed animal drive, which began on Nov. 16 and will go through Dec. 18. Donations this year benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine.

“We’re happy to be partnering with the Maine Mariners on this initiative for our members,” Chief Operating Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine Karen MacDonald said. “We’re looking forward to sending the teddy bears and stuffed animals home with our kids this year.”

The South Portland Professional Firefighters will be on hand to help collect for the South Portland Holiday Toy Drive – the secondary beneficiary of the Teddy Bear Toss. For the event, fans will be able to drive down Center Street via Free Street between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on December 5, and “toss” their stuffed animal donations into bins and fire vehicles.

Santa Claus will even be making an appearance to collect letters from young fans.

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Alternatively, fans can drop off stuffed animal donations at the Mariners front office on 94 Free Street in Portland, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through December 18, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day.

Teddy bears can also be purchased and donated through the Mariners merchandise store for $10, with the option of bundling an end section ticket voucher for a 2021-22 game for $20.

For all donation methods, only new stuffed animals containing tags will be accepted.

“The Teddy Bear Toss is one of the best minor league hockey traditions,” Adam Goldberg, Mariners Vice President of Business Operations, said in a release. “It is fun to throw them on the ice, but even more importantly, it can brighten the holiday season for many underprivileged youth in the area. That is why we couldn’t skip the Toss this season. Please consider donating a new stuffed toy and I promise to give you the opportunity to throw something else on the ice in the future.”

Last week, the Mariners and the ECHL North Division opted out of the 2020-2021 season. The league made the decision to suspend play after looking at the growing cases in the region. The Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Reading Royals, and Worcester Railers are set to return to the ECHL for the 2021-22 season.