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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

Oct 23, 2016 Olga Faletova
Oct 23, 2016 Linda Bricker Animals were not put on this earth for entertainment. Drop people for entertainment!
Oct 22, 2016 Stacy Lee
Oct 22, 2016 Michele Temple
Oct 22, 2016 Armida Franceschini I had a baby possum I rescued from his dead mother's pouch he was my faithful & loving companion until his death - I will always miss my Jr. Family Friendly nonsense we should love & protect our wildlife.
Oct 22, 2016 Lori Neuman Stop this possum drop! Cruel and heartless!
Oct 21, 2016 Todd Green
Oct 21, 2016 Novani Munawar
Oct 21, 2016 Gaia Gardiner
Oct 21, 2016 Tina Brewster
Oct 21, 2016 Jessica Wolf
Oct 21, 2016 Katarina ROSSLEROVA
Oct 20, 2016 Tori Apodaca
Oct 20, 2016 Thomas Blackwell
Oct 20, 2016 susan barta
Oct 20, 2016 Tiffany Carder
Oct 20, 2016 MaryAnn Bomarito
Oct 19, 2016 Helen Poade For God's sake grow some humanity and stop this barbarism
Oct 19, 2016 Mary Myers
Oct 19, 2016 Vik Cooke
Oct 19, 2016 inmaculada sanchez raya
Oct 19, 2016 Conni Fialkowski
Oct 18, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 18, 2016 Elizabeth Bastos
Oct 18, 2016 trudi selner
Oct 17, 2016 Terri Barth
Oct 17, 2016 Mirja Hamalainen
Oct 17, 2016 Kelly Overacker
Oct 17, 2016 Angie Krusto
Oct 17, 2016 Anne Shackman
Oct 17, 2016 E Herman The manner in which a people treat their animals is a reflection on their entire society. Is this inhumane treatment of animals how North Carolina wants to be known? STOP this abusive practice NOW! It's the right thing to do.
Oct 17, 2016 Wendy Lukowitz
Oct 17, 2016 Silke Kleinhenz
Oct 17, 2016 Cheryl Clouse
Oct 16, 2016 Lu Mulligan
Oct 16, 2016 Diethild Vogt Unbelievable CRUELTY!!!!! Stop that immediately!!!!
Oct 16, 2016 Sandra Roush
Oct 16, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 16, 2016 Sherry Dooley BARBARIC, DISGUSTING, APPALLING and DESPICABLE. You people need prosecuted to the fullest extent of every applicable law!!!
Oct 16, 2016 Rita Schwarz
Oct 16, 2016 Danuta Wojciechowska
Oct 16, 2016 Agnieszka Wojciechowska
Oct 16, 2016 Kim DiRoberts The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot. ~Mark Twain, What Is Man
Oct 16, 2016 Kevin Branstetter
Oct 15, 2016 Caitlan Taylor
Oct 15, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 15, 2016 Katalin Kónya-Jakus
Oct 14, 2016 (Name not displayed)

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