With the roar of the chainsaws, a long tradition at Auburn University in Alabama has come to an end. The beloved oak trees at Toomer's Corner — under which football fans have celebrated many a football victory — have been cut down. The trees were poisoned more than two years ago by a jealous fan from the University of Alabama.
Although Auburn spent months and thousands of dollars trying to save the 130-year-old trees, officials finally decided that the damage was too severe. That decision came in March, only a few days after Harvey Updyke Jr., the man who poisoned the trees, pleaded guilty to criminal damage of an agricultural facility and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Auburn University held one last celebration on April 20, where fans could drape the trees with toilet paper as they traditionally have after football victories. The "Celebrate the Tradition" event — which followed the A-Day game, a widely watched scrimmage of Auburn players — was attended by thousands of students, alumni and fans, some of whom have been attending the games for decades.
Though the trees did not survive, they will live on. Auburn will offer a series of mementoes carved from the trees' wood, with sales benefitting a new scholarship fund.
And Toomer's Corner will not be without trees for long. During the Celebrate the Tradition event, Auburn announced a new design for the corner. It will include an arcing path, new seating and improved shade areas — and, of course, two new oak trees. "Live trees will be planted on the corner and the great tradition of rolling the corner will continue, Auburn Alumni Association President Bill Stone said when the plans were unveiled.
The Associated Press filed this video, showing the celebration and the first cuts of the chainsaws as crews prepared to take down the trees:
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