Toilet paper covered the brick paths and grass surrounding the Oaks at Toomer’s Corner as hundreds of Auburn fans flooded the streets Sunday night to catch a glimpse of the 2019 SEC Tournament Champions.
Fans cheered familiar Auburn chants as speakers blasted tunes from the Auburn University Marching Band. When the team arrived, fans circled the familiar orange and blue Tiger Transit bus as the team exited at the intersection of North College Street and Magnolia Avenue.
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“It’s hard to put into words,” said Assistant Coach Steven Pearl. “You’re downtown on a Sunday night, traffic all over the place. You pull up and there’s just hundreds, thousands of people just kind of standing at Toomers.”
Pearl was among the team members and staff to speak to the crowd before casting their rolls of toilet paper onto the trees.
“I’m just so happy for the kids,” Pearl said. “They’ve worked so hard for this. They’ve worked so hard for experiences like this and that’s why they came to Auburn, to change the culture and to change the program and to do this.”
Mayor Ron Anders, with a scarf made of toilet paper, joined Aubie greeted the team as they exited the bus. Anders introduced the team to the crowd as fans erupted into cheers.
“It was a great honor and a great opportunity to say thank you to people that brought a lot of joy to our community,” Anders said.
The win comes just two weeks after tornadoes ravaged Lee County. A win of this caliber brings a great sense of hope to the community, Anders said in an interview following the event.
“It just brings such a sense of happiness to your town and there’s so much meaning to this,” Anders said. “It’ll make Monday a little more pleasant for all of us.”
The win also means a lot to Anders, who was an Auburn cheerleader when Auburn won its last SEC Tournament in 1985. This win has been a long time coming, and he is excited to watch the NCAA Tournament, Anders said.
Anders also noted the impact Head Coach Bruce Pearl has had on the community.
“I’m just thankful for coach Pearl and the way he’s lead his team and his program and how much he cares about his community,” Anders said.
Students and community members alike joined the team in rolling the trees. Helen Hall, junior in rehabilitation studies, and Courtney Carder, junior in communications, were among the students in the crowd taking pictures in the wonderland of toilet paper.
“We just wanted to welcome the team,” Carder said. “We’re so proud of them. They really represent Auburn well.”
They packed in the crowd of hundreds of Auburn fans to congratulate the team.
“You don’t really necessarily know everyone that’s here, but you’re all here for the common goal of welcoming home the boys,” Hall said.
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