To many, Toomer’s Corner has always been filled with more than trees. Thousands of Auburn fans, visiting teams and families enjoy celebrating victories of all kinds under the trees. On February 17, 2011 however, Auburn supporters rolled the Toomer’s trees for a different occasion.
Students, professors, graduates and fans mourned the sickness of the beloved trees due to poisoning. Harvey Updyke was arrested on charges of criminal mischief in association with the tree poisoning and could face up to ten years in prison if convicted.
One family, the Wards, drove from LaGrange, Ga. in order for their young son to experience the magic of Toomer’s.
“When we first found out about it we were devastated, it was almost like, just when we drove up, it was like folks were mourning and that’s certainly how we felt,” said Ward. “We took off work early this afternoon to get photos and that sort of thing… it’s really dear to our heart especially being an Auburn alumnus.”
Steven and his wife, Michelle, brought their three-month-old son, Jackson, to Auburn Friday. Ward spoke of his love for Auburn traditions and pride he has for the school.
“I certainly hope that we will be able to share some tradition whether it be here at Toomer’s corner with the trees that are here now, or whether they be replaced, or whatever the case might be I certainly hope that it’s still a tradition,” said Ward.
Looking back on this past year, the Wards were disappointed that they were unable to roll Toomer’s this season.
“This year we had just had a baby and we didn’t make it down for many football games and unfortunately now, looking back in time, we certainly regret that,” said Ward, “with the upcoming season the trees may not be here. We certainly hope they are, but things don’t look so good right now.”
Ward hopes one day Jackson will be able to celebrate victories with the same trees he did as a student at Auburn. However, he is content with knowing that Updyke was arrested.
“I was online watching and immediately when I found out that they had arrested ‘Al from Dadeville’ I was excited,” he said. “Of course I posted it on my facebook page and shared it with everyone in my office, sort of a cheer of excitement. I certainly hope that he’s punished to the fullest extent that is possible.”