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Large crowds, live music, and loud fireworks — it would have all the hallmarks of a typical New Year’s celebration, if not for the terrified opossum dangled in a cramped box over the cheering mob. This is Brasstown’s annual “Opossum Drop,” which adds a North Carolina “twist” on the prominent ball drop in Time Square. (See the video under “More about this issue” for a first-hand look.)

In recent years, event organizers have faced increased pressure from animal advocates, culminating in a lawsuit that prevented use of a live opossum in the 2013 event. Not to be deterred, State Representative Roger West (who also happens to sponsor the Opossum Drop) introduced a bill (HB 1131) “to exempt Clay County from state wildlife laws with respect to opossums between the dates of December 26 and January 2.” The bill became law in June 2014.

An implicit acknowledgement that the event violates the state’s existing wildlife laws, this law sets a poor precedent, prioritizing personal and commercial interests over animal welfare. Worse still, this “family friendly” event teaches young kids in attendance that it’s okay to masquerade animal abuse as entertainment.

This leaves us until the end of the year to let North Carolina’s General Assembly know we don’t tolerate this brand of animal cruelty. Fortunately, a trio of Senators that serve on the state’s Environment Committee also voted against this awful piece of legislation. Sign below to stand behind them and call on a law to repeal SL 2014-7.

Sign Here

Dear Senators Jeff Jackson, Trudy Wade, and Angela Bryant:

As members of the state’s Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources, I am writing to you to ask you continue standing up against animal cruelty in all of its manifestations. Specifically, this is a request to repeal SL 2014-7, which permits Brasstown, NC to continue using live opossums in their annual New Year’s celebration, the “Opossum Drop.” All but the event’s most ardent supporters recognize this façade for what it is — animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment.

The Opossum Drop is especially dangerous in its depictions of animal cruelty. Billed as a “family friendly” event, the celebration dresses up torture and animal abuse in a veneer of frivolity that belies the tragic underpinnings of the event. Each year, organizers capture and confine the typically reclusive marsupial in a cramped space where it is left to dangle above thousands of cheering onlookers as they celebrate with loud music, fireworks, and even musket fire.

Concerned citizens are dismissed as hippie killjoys out to ruin a town tradition in the name of political correctness. But “tradition” often serves as a last refuge for anachronistic practices that fall from social favor. Opossum Drop’s defenders are particularly disingenuous, ignoring the fact that the event was fabricated in 1990 as a desperate marketing ploy for the tiny Appalachian town. Since then, the event has quickly enshrined a public display of animal cruelty that now enjoys state protection.

Those same supporters also argue the captive opossum receives better treatment than a wild opossum and then is released back into the wild after the event. Yet reams of evidence and experts counter that the abducted mammal suffers potentially lethal trauma from the exposure and likely perishes shortly after release. Opossums are nocturnal creatures that prefer dark and secure areas — not a Plexiglas case left hanging above a rambunctious crowd during a fireworks show.

A replica could easily stand in for these unfortunate opossums and prevent any potential for abuse — not to mention the mounting cost of legal battles in courtrooms and the state legislature — while carrying on the tradition. In fact, true adherents should recall the very first Opossum Drop used a ceramic replica and only later introduced the live opossum.

As it stands now, Opossum Drop’s only legacy is one of animal cruelty, teaching future generations that such mistreatment is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged. The punchline of many jokes, it’s easy and even tempting to dismiss the troubles of this solitary marsupial. It gives me some hope to see a small enclave of reason and empathy operating in an environment dominated by personal and commercial interests.

Please, do what you can to convince your colleagues and your constituents that SL 2014-7 is a shameful law and needs repealed immediately.


(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures

Jan 19, 2017 Ellen Ribolla
Jan 19, 2017 Claudia Köhler
Jan 18, 2017 Susan Bortolussi
Jan 18, 2017 Howard Cohen
Jan 18, 2017 Susan Syquia
Jan 18, 2017 Kevin Maisonave
Jan 17, 2017 Minerva Quiroz
Jan 17, 2017 Pamela Lawson
Jan 17, 2017 nick jansen
Jan 17, 2017 Megan Schneider
Jan 16, 2017 Chay Krasner Dispicable.
Jan 16, 2017 Dalca Carvalho
Jan 16, 2017 Charity Chambers
Jan 16, 2017 Sonia Hernandez
Jan 16, 2017 linda shingles
Jan 16, 2017 Vesna Vukov
Jan 16, 2017 Chantal Lamy
Jan 16, 2017 Marie Perry
Jan 16, 2017 Amina Dhumaad
Jan 16, 2017 Jennifer Horsmon
Jan 15, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jan 15, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jan 15, 2017 anna gennari
Jan 15, 2017 Nico Sandman
Jan 15, 2017 Rosanne Fischer Abuse and injury/death for people's fun is abominable.
Jan 14, 2017 Joan Hunnicutt
Jan 14, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jan 14, 2017 Dawn West Sick..people are sick
Jan 14, 2017 Sue Jackson
Jan 14, 2017 Barbara Sessions
Jan 14, 2017 (Name not displayed) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Jan 14, 2017 Judy Kairys
Jan 13, 2017 Ray Morris
Jan 13, 2017 Suzette Hoyt
Jan 13, 2017 Summer Hirsch
Jan 13, 2017 julian zrnic
Jan 13, 2017 Madeline Loder
Jan 13, 2017 Anna Brockway
Jan 13, 2017 Barbara Foster
Jan 13, 2017 Autumn Severit
Jan 13, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jan 13, 2017 Maria Angeles Leorza Arechavaleta
Jan 12, 2017 Marie Santoro
Jan 12, 2017 Debbie Penders WTF People, stupid inbreds
Jan 11, 2017 Hanni Gennat
Jan 11, 2017 linda scyoc
Jan 11, 2017 Marie Hood
Jan 11, 2017 Elena Semper
Jan 11, 2017 Olga P

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