A Western North Carolina community savored a controversial holiday tradition down to the final drop – of the opossum.
Organizers of the Brasstown “Possum Drop” have ended the 24-year-old ritual of slowly lowering a marsupial in a box to usher in the New Year, according to the Cherokee Scout.
“It’s a hard job to do, and it’s time to move on,” event organizer Clay Logan told the local newspaper.
The Possum Drop, which made USA Today’s latest top-5 list of weird things dropping on New Year’s Eve, was held at Logan’s crossroads store, Clay’s Corner.
The store recently closed after about three decades in operation. Its website still promotes the Possum Drop, which has been debated both morally and legally over the years.
“We just want to let you know that we do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to harm the ’possum,” the website says. “We celebrate in honor of this marsupial!”
Another website entry notes “the opossum is not actually ‘dropped,’ it is lowered with great care. We treat our little friend with respect, hold him in awe, and do not inflict any injury or traumatize God’s creature of the night.”
The folks at PETA felt otherwise, filing lawsuits in hopes of ending the Clay County celebration and upending a state law enacted in 2014 that made the event possible between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.
Logan stopped using a living animal for the celebration for a couple years due to the ongoing legal battle.
In 2014, it was a pot of possum stew that was lowered inside the Plexiglas box used for the countdown.