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Polar Express Event Helps Benefit Over 17,000 Children

By Breeanna Jent
Staff Writer
2013-12-18 at 10:55:44
Covered in fuzzy pajamas and thick blankets, children and their families huddled together on the outfield of the IE 66ers homefield at San Manuel Stadium Friday evening, Dec. 13, to keep out the cold and enjoy a showing of Polar Express in the 4th Annual Polar Express event, hosted with the collaboration of the Inland Empire 66ers and Santa Claus Inc. The fourth annual event featured a toy drive that aimed to benefit over 17,000 underprivileged children in the local area and also included a showing of "The Polar Express," presented the LED Video Board on the San Manuel Stadium field - the largest of its kind in the California League. More than 200 families came out for the event. "Over 100 toys this year were donated to Santa Claus Inc.," said Ryan English, Assistant General Manager, IE 66ers. Kids and their parents were encouraged to dress in their coziest pajamas and bring their thickest blankets while enjoying the film. Families were also encouraged to donate at least one unwrapped toy to Santa Claus Inc. The 66ers mascot Bernie was also out and about to greet children, along with Santa Claus. The two also posed for photos throughout the evening with their littlest fans. The event was topped off with the scent of popcorn and other goodies from the open concession stands. English talked about the reasons the team have made a point to connect with other community-based organizations. "The 66ers enjoy being a community gathering point for all events, not just baseball. So when we sat down with the City of San Bernardino and the San Bernardino Economic Development Agency we came up with the no-brainer of an idea to show the Polar Express free of charge to all people. This movie in particular really showcases what this time of year is all about." The event, organizers felt, accomplished the two goals set out this year, as well as those in the past: "The first (goal) is to provide a family-affordable event. The second is to raise awareness for the charities that the team has partnered up with," said English. "It is important for us as an organization, as it re-emphasizes our commitment to the community as all professional sports teams should have. This area in particular has always supported us and the events that we hold are just another way in which we say thank you to the best fans in all of minor league baseball."
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