The Possum Drop is an annual New Year's Eve event in which an opossum is lowered at midnight. The first documented case of a possum drop was in 1990 in Brasstown, North Carolina.[1] The original event has been discontinued, but a version of it is currently held annually in Tallapoosa, Georgia.

Brasstown Drop

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Clay's Corner, home of the Possum Drop, in Brasstown, NC

Brasstown's Possum Drop was initially hosted at Clay's Corner, a convenience store owned by Clay and Judy Logan. The event featured the lowering of a live opossum in a plexiglass cage from the store's roof.[2] Despite its name suggesting otherwise, the opossum was not physically dropped; rather, it descended gradually, akin to the descent of a time ball. Following the descent, the opossum was released unharmed.[3]

The festivities included a contest with men dressed as women to compete for the title of "Miss Possum Queen". Additionally, there were performances of bluegrass music, snacks, refreshments, and the opportunity to purchase souvenir merchandise.[4][5]

The Possum Drop started in 1990, featuring a ceramic opossum lowered in a fish bowl.[6] In the following year, a live opossum, specifically captured for the occasion, was used.[4] However, ahead of the 2004 Possum Drop, protests from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals led to a modification in practice. Consequently, roadkill was used for the possum drops from 2004 onwards. [7]

After the retirement of Clay and Judy Logan, the event moved to nearby Andrews, North Carolina, for the 2018-2019 edition. However, this relocation was met with controversy due to an unfortunate incident during the event. The opossum involved sustained an injury, resulting in a broken leg that required amputation. Subsequently, lawsuits by PETA and appeals from concerned citizens to state authorities ensued, and the decision was made to stop the Possum Drop. Since then, the event has not been held. [1]

Tallapoosa Drop

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In the late 1990s, Tallapoosa town organizers created a New Year's Eve event based on the historical name of the town given by old settlers, Possum Snout. For this event, they opted to use a taxidermy opossum provided by local career taxidermists Bud and Jackie Jones.[8]

 
A view from the stage on NYE in Tallapoosa, GA at The Possum Drop

Spencer, the taxidermy opossum, was suspended in a wire ball adorned with Christmas lights and positioned at ground level for the majority of the night to facilitate viewing and photography by spectators.

At 11:30 pm, he was raised to the top of one of the city's tallest buildings. Then, at midnight, he was slowly lowered to the ground, to symbolize the start of the new year. Spencer's name is a tribute to Ralph L. Spencer, a prominent 19th-century businessman recognized for his contribution to the town's economic growth.[9][10]

TLC filmed the New Year's special of their show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo at the Possum Drop in Tallapoosa.[11]

Criticism

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Possum drops have faced criticism and protest, with notable instances of opposition from organizations such as PETA. In 2013, they pursued legal action to stop Brasstown's Possum Drop, under the premise that the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission had overstepped its authority in issuing a catch permit for the event.[12] In response to the lawsuit, the organizers opted to use a taxidermy opossum instead.[13] PETA did not oppose this alternative approach. [14]

The same year, the North Carolina legislature passed a law explicitly granting the commission the authority to issue permits for events like the Possum Drop. Consequently, the Brasstown event was able to resume in 2014. The controversy surrounding the use of live opossums prompted significant public outcry, with thousands of local residents and individuals from across the United States signing petitions in opposition to the event's continuation with live animals. [15]

Brasstown received national attention for the 2015 New Year Possum Drop when PETA filed a motion once more to prevent Clay's Corner from obtaining a capture permit. Logan claimed he had already chosen not to pursue a state permit for that year's drop, citing time constraints.[14]

References

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  1. ^ a b Elassar, Alaa (2019-12-31). "North Carolina town ends New Year's Eve Possum Drop tradition". CNN. Retrieved 2022-09-02.
  2. ^ New Year's Eve Lowering of the Opossum http://www.clayscorner.com/new-years-eve.shtml
  3. ^ Horne, Robert (2006). "PETA amazed Possum Drop continues". Cherokee Scout. Murphy, N.C.: Community Newspapers, Inc. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23.
  4. ^ a b Jeffrey Gettleman (December 31, 2003). "Keep Your Ball. We've Got the Possum". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Mountain Manager & Associates "Welcome to Mountain Manager & Associates, Inc". Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
  6. ^ Keely, Harrison; Keely, Marcus (2007-08-08). "Eleven questions for Clay Logan". Smoky Mountain Sentinel. Hayesville, N.C.: Sentinel Newspapers. p. 4A.
  7. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (2004-01-02). "A New Year's Tradition Lives, But the 4-Legged Star Doesn't". The New York Times. p. A12.
  8. ^ Moffitt, Kelly; Glenn, Heidi (December 28, 2018). "Meet The Couple Behind A New Year's Eve 'Possum Drop' In Georgia". NPR.org. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
  9. ^ RoadsideGeorgia.com http://roadsidegeorgia.com/city/tallapoosa.html
  10. ^ "Tallapoosa, GA - Possum Drop - New Year's Eve". RoadsideAmerica.com. Retrieved 2024-05-01.
  11. ^ "'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' Season 3 finale: A proposal and a possum drop". IMDb. Retrieved 2024-05-01.
  12. ^ Shaffer, Josh (November 13, 2012). "NC judge halts Brasstown's Opossum Drop". Raleigh News-Observer. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  13. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (2004-01-02). "A New Year's Tradition Lives, But the 4-Legged Star Doesn't". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-09-02.
  14. ^ a b Jarvis, Craig (December 29, 2014). ‘Possum Drop’ organizer won’t use live opossum this year. Charlotte Observer. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  15. ^ "Controversial possum drop prevails in NC". WTVR. Tribune Broadcasting. January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
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