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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

Jul 22, 2017 Sandy Tesar
Jul 22, 2017 Matilde Ravizza
Jul 21, 2017 yvonne FOURGOUS
Jul 21, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jul 21, 2017 Desiree West
Jul 21, 2017 Lou Iannucci
Jul 20, 2017 Cheryl Kneisley
Jul 20, 2017 Alanna Reuben The possum drop is repulsive and disgusting.
Jul 20, 2017 Susan Bain
Jul 20, 2017 brian meegan
Jul 20, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jul 20, 2017 Lise Branchaud
Jul 20, 2017 J. Scott
Jul 19, 2017 Lynette Nielsen
Jul 19, 2017 Laura Grove
Jul 18, 2017 Bożena Staniszewska
Jul 18, 2017 Linda Emerson
Jul 18, 2017 Kimberly Carignan
Jul 18, 2017 Kathleen Lovan Possums are very beneficial to say nothing of this cruelty! Stop it!
Jul 18, 2017 Juliane Rocha
Jul 17, 2017 Beverley Errington And America calls itself civilised..... barbarians
Jul 17, 2017 ILIANA MEZA
Jul 17, 2017 Alexandra Marcantonio
Jul 17, 2017 Lily Eshuis
Jul 16, 2017 Sevasti Kaziales
Jul 16, 2017 lois ann clouthier
Jul 16, 2017 Judy Spielmacher
Jul 16, 2017 Jirina Truneckova
Jul 15, 2017 Desari Erickson
Jul 15, 2017 Carolyn Powers
Jul 14, 2017 Penny Merican
Jul 14, 2017 Bonnie Schneider Stop using animals as means of entertainment, this is cruel and should be stopped immediately. It is disturbing that humans are so inept as to find animal abuse frivolous
Jul 14, 2017 Tracey Talentino
Jul 14, 2017 Barbara Slaterback
Jul 14, 2017 Judith Sloane
Jul 14, 2017 Melanie Cameron
Jul 14, 2017 Jackie Byrd
Jul 14, 2017 barb eichelsbacher
Jul 14, 2017 Nicholas Eason
Jul 14, 2017 Linda Hunt
Jul 13, 2017 Dana Barringer
Jul 12, 2017 marie van hooff
Jul 12, 2017 Andrea Anderson
Jul 12, 2017 Trina Snow
Jul 12, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jul 12, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Jul 12, 2017 Laura and Bill Congdon
Jul 11, 2017 R Clampitt
Jul 11, 2017 Shayne O'Brien
Jul 11, 2017 kathy humes barbaric , stop this

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