Ranking Auburn’s Top Traditions
There is no denying that passion runs deep in Auburn, Alabama. The city revolves, literally and figuratively, around Auburn University. In the Southeastern Conference where It Just Means More, collegiate athletics are serious business. The city of 60,000 residents welcomes roughly 90,000 fans for football gamedays. What makes Auburn so great? Let’s rank the traditions that keep alumni and fans coming back to The Loveliest Village on the Plains.
1. Rolling Toomer’s Corner
Following athletic wins, fans make their way to Toomer’s Corner to roll the oak trees. The tree rolling dates back to 1962 when ticker tape was thrown into the oaks to signal a road victory for the Tigers. No one is really sure how or why the rolling caught on, but it’s quickly become a fan favorite. Following a big football win, the corner resembles a winter snowstorm.
Fun fact: Auburn is the only city in the country with a budget for cleaning up toilet paper!
It’s not all fun and games, though. In 2011, the original Auburn Oaks were poisoned by a fan of *that other school* after Auburn won the Iron Bowl and the National Championship. The trees died and were removed in 2013. Descendent oaks of the original trees were planted in 2014. Security measures, including the addition of fencing and cameras, were added to prevent future vandalism. However, in 2016 a rival fan set one of the trees on fire following an Auburn win.
2. War Eagle flight
The eagle flight might be the most unique tradition in college football. Prior to kickoff, an eagle circles Jordan-Hare Stadium and lands at midfield as fans cheer. Eagles started flying at Auburn home games in 2000. Golden eagle Aurea assumed the title of War Eagle VIII following Nova’s retirement in 2019.
“War Eagle” is Auburn’s battle cry, not to be confused with the tiger mascot. History about the battle cry and eagle flight can be found here.
According to the University, the role of Auburn University’s eagles is to promote wildlife conservation as a part of the education initiatives of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Southeastern Raptor Center. Aurea arrived at The Center after suffering a wing injury near Selma, Alabama. The injury caused increased flight drag, which keeps her from tracking down prey and surviving in the wild.
ESPN, Southern Living, and the Bleacher Report (among others) rank Auburn as one of the top tailgating locations in the country. Tents and RVs line almost every square foot of the campus. Tailgate spots are open to claim starting on Thursday afternoons prior to home football games. Depending on kickoff time, the menu might include mimosas and Chick-fil-a minis or elaborate spreads of barbeque and trimmings. One thing is for sure- you show up to a tailgate well-dressed. Yes, that means sundresses and button-ups. And don’t forget the boots.
4. Tiger Walk
Tiger Walk is one of the most imitated traditions in college sports. On gamedays, the Tigers walk down South Donahue Drive from the athletic complex to the stadium. Fans line the street to cheer on the team as they prepare for the game. Tiger Walk dates back to the 1960s when kids would cheer on the players and get autographs. It is now one of the fans’ most treasured traditions.
The most famous Tiger Walk took place in 1989 when Alabama came to Auburn and played at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time. It’s estimated that more than 20,000 fans lined the street.
5. Marching Band Pregame
The Auburn University Marching Band has 380 members and performs pregame and halftime shows for Auburn football games. Smaller pep bands play at basketball games as well as away football games. The AUMB is the only band in the SEC without a nickname. Former Auburn president, Dr. Harry Philpott, famously said, “Some other institutions need to give descriptive names to their bands in order to praise them. The quality of the music, the precision of its drills, and the fine image that it portrays have made it unnecessary for us to say more than ‘This is the Auburn University Marching Band.’”
The band’s pregame performance might be the best part of the game itself. The band sprints out of the team tunnel and performs the fight song, “War Eagle” as well as “Glory, Glory to ole Auburn” as it forms the interlocking AU logo. Fans then sing along as the band plays the national anthem and “God Bless America.” There’s nothing else quite like it.
The Auburn University Marching Band also performed in three presidential inaugural parades.