By Steve Lyttle
The organizer of the 18th annual Possum Drop on New Years Eve says the event will go on tonight, despite a PETA lawsuit.
But it might be road kill instead of a live possum, Clay Logan says.
The event is the ... er, highlight of the New Years Eve festival at Logan’s store near the Clay County community of Brasstown. That is west of Asheville and about 225 miles west of Charlotte, near North Carolina’s border with Georgia and Tennessee.
For the past 17 years, thousands of people have celebrated the arrival of a new year with live bluegrass music, the Miss Possum pageant, a performance by the Little Brasstown Church Choir, and hot cider.
Oh ... and the possum drop.
At midnight, a live possum in a see-through box was slowly dropped, bringing in the new year.
But a few months ago, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals went to court in an effort to stop the possum drop. PETA officials claimed the event was cruel treatment of the animal, frightening the possum for the benefit of people’s amusement. The original court case was dropped, but PETA succeeded eventually in getting a judge to stop Logan from using a live animal.
The judge ruled that the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission did not have the authority to allow Logan a permit to keep a captive animal.
Logan countered that the possum was dropped slowly, and organizers of the event took great care to prevent the animal from being injured. Supporters of the event have asked the public to contribute to a legal defense fund for Logan in his court battles with PETA.
Logan says the event will take place as usual tonight, starting at 9:30 p.m. And he said there will be a possum in the box.
Without telling reporters how he will get around the court order, Logan hinted that he has other options.
“It could be road kill,” he told reporters.
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