Tradition returns to Toomer’s Corner

The oak trees at the corner of College Street and Magnolia Avenue are ready to come off the injured reserve.

A tradition that started in the early 1970s with The Amazins went on hiatus in 2013.

The former oak trees had to be replaced after it was discovered an Alabama fan poisoned them following the 2010 Iron Bowl. Harvey Updyke, who called into the Paul Finebaum show to admit to the crime, pleaded guilty to a Class C felony and had to pay Auburn $800,000 in restitution costs.

The new oaks — 35-foot tall trees with 30-foot spreads — were planted at Toomer’s Corner in February 2015 from a South Carolina nursery. One of them had to be replaced in July of last year, but the university announced the trees are both settled enough for the tradition to resume in August.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience during the past few years,” said Ron Booth, executive director of facility operations. “This is a return to one of the greatest traditions in college athletics.”

The university is asking fans not to roll the 10 smaller oak trees, descendants of the original oak trees, lining the walkway from Toomer’s Corner to Samford Hall.

“We are still conscious of making sure the trees stay healthy,” said Gary Keever, Auburn University’s horticulture professor. “We also have water systems in place below the trees and even water pipes to the top that we need to protect. The toilet paper will be removed by hand after each rolling.”

The university has even come up with a social media campaign — #TwoTreesOneTradition — to promote the tradition’s return.

A new chapter for the famed campus hangout can officially begin when the football team wins its first game. Auburn opens the season as 7.5-point underdogs against No. 2 Clemson under the lights at Jordan-Hare Stadium to night.