By Marissa Ochsner

Round up your teddy bears and fuel up the car because the Calgary Hitmen 2020 Teddy Bear Collection begins today with a sneak peek drive-through experience. 

The sneak peek runs from 4 to 9 p.m. and is the first look at 'Teddy Bear Lane'.

The community is invited to crank the Christmas tunes and drive through the 5th Street SE traffic loop entrance of Scotiabank Saddledome where at the top they'll hand off their teddy donation to an elf who will toss it into an inflatable outdoor rink. Teddy Bear Lane will include a Christmas lights display, video screen, decorated trees and even a visit from Santa along with holiday displays from Siksika Nation, Flames Sports Bank, Calgary Zoo and other community partners.

Alongside Teddy Bear Lane, which will be set up all weekend, is the Calgary Flames Alumni Toy Drive where fans can drop off an unwrapped gift to be donated to deserving families in the community.

Though both events run through the whole weekend, there's a Friday bonus. Anyone who donates to the Teddy Bear Collection or the Alumni Toy Drive today will receive some free ice cream malt courtesy of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation Concessions.

The official schedule for Teddy Bear Collection is as follows:

  • Sneak Peek Friday, December 4:
    4:00pm – 9:00pm (Teddy Bear Lane Light Show)
  • Saturday, December 5:
    12:00pm – 4:00pm (Regular drop off hours)
     4:00pm – 8:00 pm (Teddy Bear Lane Light Show)
  • Sunday, December 6:
    12:00pm – 4:00pm (Regular drop off hours)
     4:00pm – 8:00pm (Teddy Bear Lane Light Show)

In an effort to manage traffic flow, fans are encouraged to visit the Teddy Bear Lane Booking Form to select a time slot to drop off their bears. 

For anyone who isn't able to attend the Teddy Bear Collection in person there are other donating options.

  • Purchase a Calgary Zoo panda bear online for $15+GST. The Hitmen will donate those stuffed animals on your behalf with net proceeds to benefit the Calgary Zoo and Calgary Hitmen Foundations. 
  • Drop your teddy bear off at the Zoo
  • Drop your bear off at any Calgary area Toys“R”Us location
  • Schedule a December 5th or 6th bear pickup service from your home by using the Teddy Bear Pick Up Form.

The Cochrane Area is among those who will be gifted the teddy bears collected. The donated bears will first go through a screening process and quarantine period.

Last year, Cochrane saw 462 stuffies come from the ice of the Saddledome to the arms of many deserving kids in our area. This year, the Cochrane and Area Events Society (CAES) is hoping for over 600 stuffies to make their way to town from the Calgary Hitmen’s Teddy Bear Lane event. 

CAES's Marina Chabbert says most of the teddies received will go to the Cochrane Activettes for 'The Share Your Christmas' hamper program. Some will also be provided for other agencies.