Summarized by Kent Larsen
Final pose of 'Sweetheart Tree'
Deseret News 25Aug99 L8
By Sharon Haddock: Deseret News staff writer
The 'Sweetheart Tree' outside the Salt Lake LDS Temple provided a
backdrop for its last married couple on August 11th, just before it
was ripped from its roots by the Tornado that struck downtown Salt
Lake City. The tree was a popular backdrop for wedding pictures, and
saw thousands of LDS couples in the first hours of their marriages.
A Lehi, Utah couple, Mike and Makinzee Loveridge believe they were
the last couple to have their picture taken in front of the tree.
And, like everyone in Salt Lake, they didn't expect the Tornado to
hit. "The sky was blue and clear. We didn't know anything when we
went in [the Temple]," Loveridge said. "When we came out again about
noon, I remember my mom commenting on how the clouds were turning and
I noticed the sky was sort of yellowish-gray. But we just started
taking pictures. We didn't really think anything of it."
Soon after their picture was taken in front of the Tree, they were
driven inside as the wind kicked up and debris started to fly. They
say an Uncle saw their picture taken, and stayed outside, also
witnessing the 'Tree' being torn from its roots.
The 'tree' is actually a 150-year-old honeysuckle shrub that has
grown up thickly over the years. It has been on the Temple grounds
for 30 years. LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills says that the shrub
will be replaced, but that it will take 100 years for the shrub to be
replaced. "And it may never be the same," said Bills.
The Loveridges were one of three newlywed couples on the Temple
grounds when the Tornado hit. They were fortunate that they had to
wait for their videographer to change cameras, and were able to get
inside when the storm hit. They say another couple were caught across
the street, and were splattered with mud and soaked from the storm.
The rest of the Loveridge's wedding celebration continued without
incident, inspite of the destruction because of the Tornado. No one
in their party was hurt, and their planned events occurred basically
on time, regardless of the traffic delays following the storm.