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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 20, 2018 Marybeth Praskievicz
Mar 20, 2018 Linda Borner
Mar 20, 2018 Lothar Schmidt
Mar 20, 2018 Laurel Williams If you have to drop something drop a box that has a terrified animal sound. Opossums may be considered "varmints" but they deserve a cleaner death than terror.
Mar 20, 2018 Adina Lesperance
Mar 19, 2018 Cherie Schofner That's animal abuse. How is this even right!?! Poor opposums
Mar 19, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Mar 19, 2018 Amanda Proux
Mar 19, 2018 Lisa J Hulsey
Mar 19, 2018 Kathy Clements Please abolish this disgusting "entertainment" and leave the possums alone to live in peace.
Mar 19, 2018 Terri Williams
Mar 19, 2018 Maria Arteaga
Mar 19, 2018 Fred Fall
Mar 18, 2018 Leah Helmer
Mar 18, 2018 Mona Werbicky I'll make this very simple for you - What you're doing is called animal cruelty, so STOP IT!!!! Yes, it is that simple. WE ARE AMERICANS - NOT BARBARIANS!
Mar 18, 2018 Brent Pennell
Mar 18, 2018 lisa carter
Mar 18, 2018 Angela Tafoya
Mar 18, 2018 Lisa Bowen
Mar 18, 2018 Sandra Clark
Mar 18, 2018 nicole goberdhan
Mar 18, 2018 Ana Suarez
Mar 18, 2018 carla howard
Mar 17, 2018 Alan Hoffner
Mar 17, 2018 Helen Smylie
Mar 17, 2018 Birgit Conlen
Mar 17, 2018 Suzanne Lenhart
Mar 17, 2018 Alexis Preisser
Mar 17, 2018 claudine gillard
Mar 17, 2018 Chris Laneave
Mar 17, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Mar 16, 2018 Deborah Reiter
Mar 16, 2018 Vicky Bashore
Mar 16, 2018 Marji Parrish
Mar 16, 2018 Malibu Green
Mar 16, 2018 Susan Hodgson
Mar 15, 2018 Krystina Boyle
Mar 15, 2018 Angela Danzik
Mar 15, 2018 Karen Phylow
Mar 15, 2018 hEATHER Knowles
Mar 15, 2018 Sherry Nechaj
Mar 15, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Mar 15, 2018 Tracey Wilson Vote Roger West out! Or better yet, put him in a box. He obviously must profit from this event or he would see the cruelty he has reinstated.
Mar 15, 2018 Christine Brazzell
Mar 15, 2018 Lesley Adamson Animals are not there for our entertainment, particularly if it involves the cruelty that many idiot people seem to think is amusing. This 'drop' teaches children that cruelty is OK.
Mar 14, 2018 Cindy-Lou Joyce
Mar 14, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Mar 14, 2018 Nicole Gugliemini
Mar 14, 2018 Renee Nyquist
Mar 14, 2018 Alexandra DUCROZET

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