Oak trees returning to Toomer's Corner in Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Oak trees will soon return to Toomer's Corner in Auburn to replace those poisoned by an Alabama fan, but the tradition of rolling the oaks with toilet paper will have to wait at least a year.
Auburn University officials announced Friday that two live oak trees about 35 feet tall will be planted at the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue on Feb. 16.
The iconic oaks that previously stood there were poisoned by Alabama fan Harvey Updyke Jr. after the 2010 Iron Bowl and had to be removed. Updyke spent six months in jail.
For many years, Auburn fans celebrated sports victories by throwing toilet paper into the trees.
The new trees are coming from a MeadWestvaco nursery in Ehrhardt, South Carolina. The university said rolling of the trees will not be allowed for at least a year to allow them to acclimate to their new environment and establish roots.
''By planting mature oaks, we hope to be able to resume the rolling tradition much sooner than we could if we planted younger trees,'' said Dan King, the university's assistant vice president for facilities management.
University spokesman Mike Clardy said the effort to save the original oaks, improvements to Toomer's Corner and planting the new oaks will end up costing about $900,000.
Trees grown from acorns from the original Toomer's Corner oaks are going to be planted nearby. Auburn trustees approved a plan Friday to install 30 of the live oaks along a new brick walkway that will connect Samford Hall to Toomer's Corner.
The trees are 12 years old and about 15 feet tall. Work on the walkway will begin in the spring and the project should be completed in 2016.
Officials have not developed a price tag for this project because the design is still being developed.
Auburn's forestry program planted the Toomer's Corner acorns in anticipation of having them as replacements if anything happened to the original oaks. Forestry professor Scott Enebak said, ''The offspring trees are too small to go on the corner, but I'm pleased they'll be planted in Samford Park where their parents stood for more than 80 years.''