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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

Mar 23, 2017 Georgia Roussis
Mar 22, 2017 Maggie Santiago
Mar 22, 2017 Karolina Blecharczyk
Mar 22, 2017 Lou Iannucci
Mar 22, 2017 wilfrid quevedo
Mar 22, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Mar 21, 2017 Jomarie Minton
Mar 21, 2017 Theresa Meade
Mar 21, 2017 Valéria Menicucci
Mar 21, 2017 Terrill McMahon
Mar 21, 2017 Bożena Staniszewska
Mar 20, 2017 Adele Knox-Roberts
Mar 20, 2017 Vanna Pichel
Mar 20, 2017 Lynne Doyle
Mar 20, 2017 Garry Taroli
Mar 20, 2017 Melissa Alfano
Mar 20, 2017 Jennifer Lindridge
Mar 20, 2017 Åsa Fredin
Mar 19, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Mar 19, 2017 Lisa Vaugh
Mar 19, 2017 Martin Henz
Mar 18, 2017 Valerie Melton
Mar 18, 2017 dan murphy
Mar 18, 2017 Stephanie Branom
Mar 17, 2017 Rex De Silva This is animal cruelty. Please stop this disgusting activity.
Mar 16, 2017 Katie Sceats
Mar 16, 2017 Pamela Hazen
Mar 16, 2017 Peni Petersen
Mar 16, 2017 Susan Benavidez
Mar 16, 2017 Christa Ybarra
Mar 16, 2017 Susan Benning
Mar 16, 2017 Donna Trueblood
Mar 15, 2017 Marion Nesbitt
Mar 15, 2017 jewell batway
Mar 15, 2017 rox matra
Mar 15, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Mar 15, 2017 Angela Tune
Mar 15, 2017 Carolyn Walters
Mar 15, 2017 Merle Weyant
Mar 15, 2017 Anita Hernandez
Mar 15, 2017 Angel Salazar-Kinsey
Mar 15, 2017 Robert Burns
Mar 15, 2017 Rose Jordahl Leave animals alone!
Mar 15, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Mar 14, 2017 Heike Werner
Mar 14, 2017 Dawn Simon
Mar 14, 2017 Jill Polanycia
Mar 14, 2017 Lisa Blackford
Mar 14, 2017 Shari Yvon-Lewis
Mar 14, 2017 Marie Willow

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