AUBURN, Ala. — If you’ve ever experienced an Auburn win at home first-hand, you know the incomparable atmosphere of a night at Toomer’s Corner, when it is covered in a sea of white toilet paper and the cheers are booming from Tigers faithful.
The tradition is one Auburn fans have cherished since the Tigers’ famous “Punt Bama Punt” win in 1972 against Alabama, and this fall, they will have it back.
Five years after the oak trees were poisoned by a rival fan, the school announced last week that the two Auburn oaks at Toomer’s Corner stand strong and ready to receive fans’ toilet paper celebrations after Tigers' wins this fall.
"We appreciate everyone's patience during the past few years," said Ron Booth, Auburn's executive director of facility operations. "This is a return to one of the greatest traditions in college athletics.”
The oaks were poisoned in late 2010 and removed in April 2013. New oaks were planted on February 14, 2015. No rolling was allowed on the new trees last fall because they had had not yet had enough time to take root.
Auburn horticulture professor Gary Keever said in the school's release that although the trees are stable enough to hold the toilet paper, fans are encouraged to be mindful of their state.
“For a year or more after digging, the trees have much smaller root systems due to the loss of most roots when dug,” Keever said. “This condition makes them prone to water stress, especially when temperatures and solar radiation are high and relative humidity is low. During water stress, the trees will partially defoliate, which is what the College Street tree did last fall and the Magnolia Avenue tree did in June. As the trees form new roots, this will not be an issue for a drought-tolerant species like live oak.
Keever also listed a few precautions to keep the trees as healthy as possible.
“Neither tree is fully established, and we need to take precautions to minimize any additional stress.” Keever said. “These include not pulling off leaves or branches, not climbing the trees, staying outside the low fences to avoid compacting the soil around the roots, and making sure the toilet paper is not lit on fire. The TP will be removed by hand as a precaution.
"The university would like the post-victory celebrations to be at the corner, which with the changes made to the corner and the intersection, is ideal for celebrating.”
To preserve the origins of the traditional trees on the corner, the horticulture staff has planted 10 seedlings of the original Toomer’s oaks lining the walkway from Toomer’s Corner to Samford Hall, Auburn’s school administration building. Those trees, along with any other trees in Samford Park, are off-limits to celebration.
“Fans are encouraged to roll only the two Auburn oaks on the corner and not other trees in Samford Park, especially the recently planted seedlings of the original Toomer’s oaks,” Keever said.
As long as Auburn fans can abide by these guidelines, the good times are ready to roll.
“The university has worked hard to restore the corner and bring back the rolling tradition,” Keever said. “We hope that fans will embrace the changes and enjoy the experience, while being mindful of the trees.”
There could be a particularly big celebration if Auburn upsets No. 2 Clemson at home in its season-opener Saturday.
(Lauren Christopher covers Auburn for GN. You can follow her on Twitter @laurchristopher)
© 2016, Lauren Christopher. All rights reserved.
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