Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever bring Christmas early to Princeton

Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever bring Christmas early to Princeton
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:40 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Christmas arrived a little early in Princeton on Wednesday, as representatives from the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever gave away thousands of free toys to the students at Princeton Community Primary School.

Every year, the Pacers and Fever travel from city to city across Indiana visiting elementary schools, spreading a little bit of Christmas cheer. They had been to Evansville before, but they had never been to Princeton before Wednesday.

For elementary school students in Princeton, Christmas has come early.

“The mayor and I have been joking our cheeks are hurting from smiling so much today,” said Princeton Police Department Chief Derek McGraw.

All of the students in Princeton Community Primary School, ranging in age from kindergarten to second grade, crowded into their school gym to welcome the proxy Santas, including the Pacers emcee, mascots Boomer and Freddy Fever, two Indiana Pacemates and veteran WNBA guard Danielle Robinson.

There was a lot of energy in the building, it even overwhelmed some.

“Seeing the smiles and the energy on their faces, the teachers are joking they’re not going to get anything done today,” said McGraw.

The Princeton Police Department coordinated the event, and say they were as excited as anyone to be selected.

For the visitors, they say it means a lot to give back.

“Being able to watch the WNBA growing up I was once in their shoes, so to now be in the opposite position and be able to give back, it’s so special to me because I know how much influence we have, and even just smiling and talking to them, it will be something that they remember forever,” said Robinson.

The visitors, as well as the Princeton Police Department, then helped the kids pick out what they would like from the over 2,000 toys they brought to give away.

For the students, each one had their own favorite parts of the event.

“Probably seeing the mascots and getting presents,” said Stella Pankake.

“It was amazing,” said Brady Reed. “I cannot believe that happened in my life before.”

“It was really fun, I got to see the mascots and it was just amazing,” said Kruize Hunt.

Of course, there were some local reasons to be excited too.

“I was excited to meet the mayor Greg Wright,” said Reed.

Mayor Wright says he recognizes how memorable this event could be for some of the children who got to participate.

“Some of these kids will never get to see Boomer and have a chance to go to a Pacers game, so for Boomer to come in town and for the Pacers to do what they’ve done is a big honor for us,” said Wright.

This year, the giveaway is traveling to six Indiana cities and has four more to go. Their next stop will be Fort Wayne on Friday.