It’s the feel-good game of the year and the Bakersfield Condors hope Saturday night’s 19th edition of the Teddy Bear Toss at Rabobank Arena is one for the record books.
The front office has worked hard toward luring a capacity crowd, somewhere north of 8,500 under the current seating configuration, and are hoping those fans toss a record number of stuffed animals (the mark is 8,075). Puck drop for the game against San Antonio is 7 p.m. Arena doors open at 6. Tickets, mostly upper level, are still available.
Here’s five things to know:
1. Arrive early. Did we mention to arrive early? You don’t want to be standing in long lines outside of the arena with a 1,000 or so others, kids in tow, arms full of stuffed animals only to hear a roar from the crowd inside as the Condors score 33 seconds into the game. Yep, that happened in 2013 and had to be a real buzz kill for all of those who were not yet in the building. So remember, arrive early.
2. Party on the Plaza. The Condors have started a Party on the Plaza outside the arena for all Saturday home games. The pre-game party starts at 5 and features music, food, games and drinks. As a bonus, the official Bakersfield Christmas Tree lighting will take place during the pre-game festivities. Just remember, get through the area doors prior to 7. See above.
3. Bring stuffed animals. Come on. We know it costs a few bucks for a stuffed animal in addition to the ticket price. But the intent of the game is provide as many stuffed animals to the United Way, which then distributes them where needed, including to first responders who are then able to offer a small measure of comfort to children via a stuffed animal when most needed. Be generous. Bring several.
4. Make it a day. A ticket to the Teddy Bear Toss game gets you into the annual Gun N Hoses charity hockey game at 2 p.m. pitting law enforcement against firefighters. This year money raised from the event will benefit Kern County Burn Survivor Trust, Bakersfield Burn Foundation and Kern Heavy Rescue. Former MLB pitcher Colby Lewis of Bakersfield will drop the ceremonial first puck for the game.
5. The Condors will be wearing special firefighter-themed jerseys during the game with five jerseys being given away during the game. The others will be auctioned off following the game with proceeds going to Kern County Burn Survivor Trust, Bakersfield Burn Foundation and Kern Heavy Rescue.