Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Bittersweet Auburn A-Day


Our morning started earlier than we expected, Abigail woke up at 5:30CT telling us "the sun is up". Matt's alarm went off about 15mins later, I think when he set his alarms he didn't realize our clocks switched over to Central Time. We decided to get ready and pop over to Toomer's Corner before the crowd arrived in the afternoon. It was perfect, very quiet and very few people around at the early 8am hour.

The Toomer's Oaks look so sad, they had been poisoned by a very disgruntled Bama fan the weekend after Auburn won the 2010 Iron Bowl. This hateful man called to brag about his actions on a sports talk radio show the week after Auburn had a huge rally to celebrate their 2010 BCS National Championship. Auburn proceeded to test the soil around the oaks and eventually confirmed the poisoning. Immediately there was an incredible outpouring of love and sadness from the Auburn Family, and beyond. Auburn's Horticulture department and Auburn's Tree Preservation Committee tried effortlessly, for two years, to repair the damage of the "very lethal dose" of herbicide. Unfortunately, the destruction could not be repaired and this A-Day game would be the final rolling of Toomer's Oaks.

Matt created this Toomer's Oaks design, right, when all the reports were being released in early 2011. I remember many Auburn fans making this design their Facebook and Twitter profile pictures (without permission). Matt was even requested to change the colors of the tree to crimson and white because there were plenty of Alabama fans also disgusted that one wretched fan can be so hateful. Yes, we each want our own teams to be successful on and off the playing fields, but to intentionally destroy property and another school's tradition is outright awful. So on this sad day, we will roll the Toomer's Oaks one last time.
Photo courtsey of AL.com
As Matt, Abigail and I were examining what was left of the poor trees we were approached by a photographer for AL.com. She asked us a few questions including "In one word: What does Toomer's mean to you?". The one word we selected was MEMORIES. Matt and I rolled Toomer's Corner while students at Auburn, it was always amazing to watch thousands and thousands of fans exit Jordan Hare Stadium walk around the Haley Center, down Thach and cross Samford Lawn to Toomer's Corner. A few block down from this iconic spot for Auburn fans, Matt and I first met while working at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center. Our first date was to the SEC Championship Game against University of Florida on December 3, 2000 (there is another story behind this, ask one of us sometime). Fast forward years ahead, and we couldn't wait to return to The Plains to bring Abigail to her first Auburn A-Day game.
April 18th, 2009
It wasn't until we returned after Auburn claimed the 2010 BCS National Championship, when we first shared the tradition of Rolling Toomer's with Abigail. She had recently turned 2yo and had fun with the orange and blue shakers, we danced to the music of the band and applauded the players and coaches for this amazing achievement.
Rolling Toomer's at National Championship Celebration, January 2011
On this A-Day in Auburn, Alabama we celebrate Auburn University, the traditions, the Auburn Family, the memories we have made on The Loveliest Village on the Plains, the new head coach Gus Malzahn and we plan to send off our Toomer's Oaks with a huge, amazing goodbye. We stopped into the newer Auburn Arena to buy tickets and we ran into Michael, he and Matt were classmates. Abigail had fun meeting Madison and we were surprised to learn a new Walker will be arriving during the 2013 football season!
    
A-Day is always the perfect event for families, especially for the children to be introduced to Auburn football. There are plenty of kid friendly activities like jump houses, face painting booths, they can throw footballs and baseballs and run drills on the football practice fields. Oh, and game tickets are priced MUCH cheaper than fall tickets!
   
We met back up with Matt's cousin Johnree and his wife Mandy to sit with and watch the A-Day game. Abigail really enjoyed being able to hop from Matt and I to Johnree and Mandy. I was really surprised how fast Abigail warmed up to them, she even shared her popcorn with them!
 

 

Since this A-Day was extra significant,  two of Matt's old classmates also brought their families to Auburn to bid a fond farewell to the Toomer's Oaks. Because life happens, our wedding 7yrs ago was the last big Industrial Design reunion. Jessica now lives back in Kentucky with her husband and twin girls, it was so nice finally getting to meet Alice & Nora and introducing them to Abigail. Uma lived abroad for a few years, her husband is military, but while they do live much closer to us (compared to Europe) we don't see them often either.





















It was so great seeing all five of our girls playing together. They were running around (maybe playing tag? we couldn't tell), collecting sticks and putting them in a big pile (you can see it in the picture at our feet). They even had lots of fun rolling one of the smaller trees in front of Samford Hall, a couple of them kept saying they were decorating a Christmas tree.
While we were able to spend time with old friends, Matt and I had lots of friends who were unable to attend this special day. There are so many amazing memories we made during our Auburn days  and while we know there are more memories to be created in years to come, it will never be the same. We mourn the Toomer's Oaks but trust that Auburn University's plan for Toomer's Corner will become an even more special place for all of the Auburn Family to continue this tradition we all love. Trees can die but their memory and spirit will live on.


War Eagle!

3 comments:

"Nina" said...

What a memorable weekend! Auburn continues to help make special memories for you family. XO

Emma Jemma said...

Beautiful photo story :-)

Will be hard to see on Saturday, but I am eternally grateful for the memories!!

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