29 Sep Stormpave is pulling for Auburn through adversity
The two famous oaks at Auburn University – site of generations of celebrations of football victories – were back this fall. Now, one of them is gone again.
The famous oaks, newly replanted, again sprouted long ribbons of toilet paper after Auburn’s shellacking of Arkansas State, 51-14, on Sept. 10. But after another victory two weeks later, someone set fire to one of the two oak trees, causing severe damage. A suspect was arrested.
One of the oldest traditions in college athletics, Auburn students and alumni have traditionally celebrated wins by rolling the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner, which is the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and College Street, the spot where downtown Auburn ends and the Auburn University campus begins. New oaks were planted and the promise was that this fall would be the first time that the celebration would be allowed.
It appeared to be the end of a story that we began telling two years ago next month. But as it turns out, it wasn’t.
The story is that the original oaks, estimated to be 85 years old, were poisoned by an Alabama fan. The old trees came down and a massive environmental cleanup was undertaken. Pine Hall Brick’s permeable StormPave pavers were chosen as one of the materials in the new plaza near the edge of campus.
Subsequently, we reported on the two new 35-foot trees that were planted to replace the oaks that were killed – and the promise at that time was that this fall, the tradition of rolling the oaks after a win on the gridiron would begin again.
And it did, on Sept. 10. But in the early morning hours of Sept. 25, following a victory over LSU and the ritual rolling of the trees, the toilet paper was intentionally set on fire in one of the two oaks, causing serious damage and an uncertain prognosis.
In a prepared statement, professor of horticulture Gary Keever said: “There is little or no healthy foliage on the burnt tree. Most of the remaining leaves will drop off over the next week or so. We will have to wait until next spring to see what long-term effects the fire had.”
Keever will use a lift this week to more closely examine the canopy of the tree.
“I don’t think the fire killed the tree, but we may never see it return to its appearance before this act,” he said.
For now, the tradition will continue, with some changes. Given that the new trees are still being established in the soil, the university had asked students not to climb in them and to stay behind fences. Instead of being removed with fire hoses, the toilet paper will now be removed by hand. Now, the university is asking the students not to roll the fire-damaged tree.
(For more about the Auburn Oaks go here.)
As it was, this first season was one with stops and starts. Students and fans were primed to head down to Toomer’s Corner and loft toilet paper into the heavens as soon as football season started.
But it wasn’t to be. The season, which opened on Sept. 3, ended in a loss to Clemson, 19-13. The second game came out much better. At the end, with a victory margin of 37 points, the party began and the toilet paper flew. See for yourself:
Photos 1 & 3 provided courtesy Auburn University.