Dec. 12--IRVINE -- It was enough that he was dressed in a bright orange Ducks-themed sweater.
It was enough that he was with several others wearing the same ugly Christmas outfit.
It was enough that the group was spotted in a local department store, their fellow shoppers pausing to take pictures or simply gawk.
It was all enough to attract attention and, yet, it wasn't quite enough, so Josh Manson, his smile beaming like a twirling goal light, climbed onto a bicycle and rode the thing down one of the aisles.
"Don't do this at Target unless you're with the Ducks," Manson announced. "And don't kick field goals, either."
Moments earlier, the Ducks defenseman indeed had been booting a football around the store, Manson, at 6-foot-3, 213 pounds, delightfully acting nothing like a 26-year-old, fourth-season NHL veteran.
But that's what can happen this time of year, huh, the holidays capable of freeing the child in each of us?
"When you see the top players on TV, you think they're in another world or something," Miguel Cid-Rosas, 15, said. "This made me see they're just like us. This experience is the best Christmas gift you could get."
The Ducks have been doing this for a decade now, taking a group of students from The Wooden Floor on a shopping spree, filling carts with clothes and toys and school supplies.
The kids typically pick out presents for their brothers, sisters and parents, but only after -- they've been assured repeatedly by the players -- it's OK to get something for themselves first.
Still, no matter how high their piles grow, the real gift can't be found on these shelves, no amount of wrapping paper making it any more precious.
"Whenever someone takes time out of their life to spend time with you, that makes you feel extra special," said Dawn Reese, CEO of The Wooden Floor. "The players make them feel that way. That's what they'll remember about this."
The Ducks aren't alone, of course. The Clippers just did a similar shopping trip with kids. The Lakers, Rams and several other local teams hosted Thanksgiving dinners centered on the less fortunate.
Yet, even as these events have become standard, acknowledging them on the sports pages still doesn't occur enough, way too many of us forgetting to look for the significance beyond the stats.
"To be here and spend some time with the kids is really a no-brainer," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "It doesn't matter that it falls on a day off. We're happy to be here."
For the record, Fowler had played 55 minutes, 49 seconds the previous two nights, the Ducks wrung through back-to-back games in Las Vegas and then at home against Ottawa.
He was here anyway, dressed in his ugly sweater -- "I was told we were going to be in Ducks T-shirts, but small price to pay," Fowler joked -- and wearing a Santa hat, too.
This is a player in the final season of a five-year, $20 million deal, the eight-year, $52 million extension Fowler signed in the summer yet to kick in.
And now he was giving a few hours of his free time to be with kids who don't have much, The Wooden Floor is a Santa Ana-based nonprofit aimed at transforming the lives of students through dance and access to higher education.
The after-school program currently serves 475 enrollees and boasts a 100 percent success rate of sending kids on to college.
"This is a chance to realize and appreciate that there's a lot of good people in the world and they're willing to help," said Giselle Arteaga, 13, whose cart was packed with presents for her family because "they were the ones who told me to come into this program. I thought it would nice for me to get something for them."
Jakob Silfverberg has participated in this shopping trip several times, the Ducks forward describing it as one of his favorite annual charity endeavors.
So, when it comes to giving, there clearly is no disconnection culturally as Silfverberg is a native of Sweden, which has its own set of, well, let's say interesting Christmas traditions.
One involves an estimated half of the country sitting down at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24 to watch a series of American cartoons from the 1950s featuring, Silfverberg said, "Donald the duck."
Seriously, this is a Duck who grew up watching a duck and now plays for the franchise originally owned by the same Walt Disney Co. that gave us -- and Sweden -- Donald.
Sharing the memory had Silfverberg grinning almost shyly, the look fitting well with all the joy happening around him in this Target.
"The kids here have the biggest smiles on their faces," he said. "We enjoy it, too. To be able to give something, especially at this time of the year, is really nice."
It's more than really nice. It's Christmas, when the kids can't help but play, even when the adults have the day off.
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