EVANSVILLE, Indiana (WFIE) — Christmas came a little early in Princeton on Wednesday, when representatives from the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever gave away thousands of free toys to students at Princeton Community Primary School.
Each year, the Pacers and Fever travel from town to town across Indiana, visiting elementary schools and spreading some 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 joked that our cheeks hurt from smiling so much today,” said Princeton Police Commissioner Derek McGraw.
All of the students at Princeton Community Primary School, ages Kindergarten through second grade, crowded into their school gymnasium to greet the proxy Santas, including the Pacers host, mascots Boomer and Freddy Fever, two Indiana Pacemates and the veteran WNBA guard Danielle Robinson.
There was a lot of energy in the building, it even overwhelmed some.
“The teachers see the smiles and energy on their faces and joke that they won’t finish anything today,” McGraw said.
The Princeton Police Department coordinated the event and said they were as excited as anyone to be selected.
For visitors, they say, giving back means a lot.
“Being able to see the WNBA grow up, I was once in their shoes so being in the opposite position now and being able to give back is so special to me because I know the impact we have and even just smile and If you talk to them, they’ll remember it forever,” said Robinson.
Visitors and the Princeton Police Department then helped the children choose what they would like from the more than 2,000 toys they brought to give away.
For the students, everyone had their own favorite part of the event.
“Probably seeing the mascots and getting presents,” said Stella Pankake.
“It was incredible,” said Brady Reed. “I can’t believe this has happened before in my life.”
“It was really fun, I saw the mascots and it was just amazing,” said Kruize Hunt.
Of course, there were also some local reasons to be happy.
“I was thrilled to meet Mayor Greg Wright,” Reed said.
Mayor Wright says he knows how memorable this event could be for some of the children who were privileged to attend.
“Some of these kids will never see Boomer and never get a chance to go to a Pacers game, so it’s a great honor for us to have Boomer come to town and the Pacers do what they did,” Wright said .
This year, the giveaway is traveling to six Indiana cities and has four more ahead of it. Your next stop on Friday is Fort Wayne.
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