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For week ended August 29, 1999 Posted 4 Sep 1999

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Final pose of 'Sweetheart Tree'

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.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information