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A spirit that is not afraid

Why we roll Toomer's Oaks

Auburn fans roll Toomer's Corner on Dec. 2, 1972 after defeating Alabama 17-16 (Contributed by Chip Woody)
Auburn fans roll Toomer's Corner on Dec. 2, 1972 after defeating Alabama 17-16 (Contributed by Chip Woody)

The tradition of rolling Toomer's Corner is one that seems to have been a part of Auburn's history from the beginning.
"My first game I went to [in 1969], no one was throwing toilet paper," said John Varner, reference assistant for the University.
Varner, who grew up an avid Auburn fan, had many years of experience with the tradition of rolling Toomer's Corner.
"There are different stories as to how it all got started," Varner said.
According to Varner, one story of the start of the tradition originated from the "Punt Bama Punt" Iron Bowl in 1972.
The trees and power lines were supposedly rolled with toilet paper after the win because of tailback Terry Hanley's comment Auburn was going to beat the "number two" out of the Crimson Tide.
At the time, Auburn was ranked No. 6 and Alabama was ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Varner said fans continued to roll the power lines along Magnolia until Alabama Power moved the lines underground in the 1980s. It was not until the 1990s fans were allegedly encouraged to roll the Toomer's Oaks.
Another origin story of the tradition claims receipt paper would be hung over the telegraph wire around Toomer's Corner to indicate an Auburn victory, according to Varner.
Jeremy Henderson, editor of the War Eagle Reader, shared views with Varner about how the tradition originated.
"There are a bunch of theories that are more like urban legends," Henderson said.
Henderson, who has studied the tradition, said the Oaks were approximately 80 years old and no telegraph wire rolling was used to indicate a victory.
"There will be people who tell you that the trees were 130 years old," Henderson said. "It started with high school and college kids going wild."
According to Henderson, the youth of Auburn would celebrate victories by painting cars, vandalizing the city, drinking alcohol and rolling the town with toilet paper.
As the trend of crazy celebration faded, rolling the town carried on, according to Henderson.
"It wasn't one conscious decision," Henderson said. "It was the one element from that era that carried on."
Henderson said he addresses the "Punt Bama Punt" legend as the largest post-game celebration since the tradition began, not the start of the Toomer's tradition. He attributes the success of the tradition to a number of factors.
"It's seemingly unique and something you can see," Henderson said. "It is something everyone can be a part of."
Although there is much speculation on how the tradition began, Henderson said one thing was, and continues to be, a fact: the bigger the rolling, the bigger the game.
Katie Oliver, sophomore in elementary education, rolled Toomer's Corner after last year's A-Day game, and said she does not know how the the long-standing tradition of rolling Toomer's Oaks started.
"I just know that the Oaks had been there for a really long time," Oliver said.
According to Oliver, the unity the tradition brings about is what has caused it to last for so many years. Oliver said she believes learning more about the traditions behind Auburn will help her to better appreciate it.
"I feel like if I knew more about it, I could pass it on," Oliver said.

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