The Hokie Nation and the Colbert Nation came together yesterday for the naming of a 300-year-old white oak after Stephen Colbert, host of television show, “The Colbert Report,” in order to bring further attention to the Stadium Woods issue.
Crowds gathered to watch the event and hopefully appear on TV surrounded the oak, rooted between Cranwell International Center and the Washington Street tennis courts.
Assistant mayor Leslie Hager-Smith was on hand to introduce the tree.
“This great tree was aged even when the first European arrived in the Virginia wilderness, making this surrounding forest older and more historic than Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, Monticello, and the rest of the commonwealth’s historic treasures,” Hager-Smith said.
The assistant mayor then christened the tree as “Quercus Omnipotens Colberticus,” Latin for “the Almighty Colbert Oak,” as a banner bearing the name and Colbert’s likeness was unfurled from a bough.
The push for the event came a week-and-a-half ago when a stranger proposed the idea to Erika Largen and other members of the Virginia Tech Environmental Coalition — the organization that sponcored the event — at a Relay For Life table.
“We got into contact with the communication director of ‘The Colbert Report’ and we’ll be sending her our footage as soon as we get it packaged with VTTV,” Largen said. “People neglected their studies and had to skip a few classes, but it’s important that we stand up for the things that we believe in.”
Largen said the scramble to organize the event was time well-spent, although a camera crew from The Colbert Report did not come.
Some participants in the event were mixed on whether or not Colbert will air it.
“I think it’s a good idea, but I don’t think it will make it on,” said Tyler Morris, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. “I don’t know how he will segway into this little event at Virginia Tech.”
Others, like sophomore marketing major Austin Himes, were hopeful.
“I honestly believe that Stephen Colbert will support this,” said Himes. “I know that he puts a lot of money into the geology department of College of Charleston (and) I’ve seen him at events with Bill McKibben. He’s very much an environmentalist.”
Some Colbert fans present predicted the tree naming would end up on Colbert’s “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger” segment, where the host praises one party and scolds the other. Himes, though, wants to see “Colberticus” appear on “The Word,” a segment where Colbert mentions a new word related to recent news.
While the banner on the tree will be taken down and sent to Colbert, a wooden plaque denoting the new name will remain on the tree’s trunk.
Another group, Friends of the Stadium Woods, will present President Charles Steger the petition against the woods development, which has a total of 6,477 names, on Thursday, May 3. The Board of Visitors will select the proposed athletic practice facility’s location on June 1.