The Possum Drop: A New Year’s Eve Tradition Lives On!

I have reported on the Possum Drop, a New Year’s Eve tradition for 24 years, in the small western North Carolina town of Brasstown a number of times. The event stuck in the craw of PETA and they sued the state a number of times to get it stopped. It took a change in state law to allow the beloved event to continue using a live opossum as opposed to either a stuffed animal or roadkill.

The event ended in Brasstown with last year’s New Years Eve when Clay Logan retired and closed his Clay’s Corner store. However, it has now been taken over as an event by the nearby Town of Andrews.

As reported by the Cherokee Scout newspaper:

The festivities start at 8 p.m. with live entertainment, including Steve Phillips and the Midnight Express as well as the High Country Harmonizers.

At 10 p.m., the possum will be escorted to the stage by the Andrews High School Marching Band. The event will continue with Logan hosting the traditional Possum Drop entertainment, including the Miss Possum Contest, a tribute to Americans serving in the military and surprise performances. The evening will conclude with the possum lowered in a Plexiglas cage to mark the new year and fireworks finale.

Just in case rainfall is too much for the grass field, there is a plan B. In that scenario, a stage will be built at the front of the pool, facing the parking lot where spectators will gather. Reid said this option would feel more like the former home of the event.

(Mayor James) Reid asked the committee for the minor change in location because he was concerned that the field at Heritage Park would be too muddy on New Year’s Eve. He didn’t want people to leave the night disappointed in the venue’s condition.

While the Town of Andrews plans to make the event its own, it still has Logan’s influence and guidance behind it. It will feature the fun traditions of live music, the Miss Possum contest and, of course, the possum carefully lowered in a cage to mark the new year.

Of course, PETA has their panties in a wad over the event as usual releasing this hyperbolic statement:

Andrews, North Carolina, apparently intends to celebrate New Year’s Eve by hosting a sadistic so-called “opossum drop,” during which a wild-caught opossum will be imprisoned inside a Plexiglas box for hours above a rowdy crowd. At midnight—after being forced to endure a near-constant barrage of live music, including a noisy marching band leading him in, and fireworks displays with the usual explosions and smoke—the terrified animal will be slowly lowered to signify the dawning of a new year. Because this sensitive and elusive prey species naturally avoids human contact at all costs, subjecting one of them to hordes of partiers, chaos, and loud noises is inhumane and would very likely result in a potentially fatal stress-induced condition.

PETA scheduled a meeting with Mayor James Reid to describe our concerns and to encourage city officials to “drop” any one of countless nonliving articles that wouldn’t suffer, but he canceled the meeting at the last minute, even declining to discuss the matter by phone—so now it’s your turn!

They are asking PETAfiles everywhere to call or write Mayor Reid to express their outrage.

Animal lovers can rest assured that the ‘possum will be well cared for as it will have a vet exam after capture, be monitored for stress, and be taken home after the event by a wildlife expert. As Town Administrator Bill Green notes, “It’s the best-cared-for possum.”

The Live ‘Possum Returns To Brasstown

Clay Logan puts on a New Year’s Eve show every year that is appreciated by all. All, that is, except the so-called animal rights activists at PETA. I’ve written about the Possum Drop in the past and PETA’s legal machinations to prevent the use of a live opossum. With New Year’s Eve almost upon us, I thought it was time for an update.

It appears that PETA is finally being stymied in its efforts to prevent a live opossum from being used in the Possum Drop. A bill that was passed this year by the North Carolina General Assembly removed the opossum from state wildlife laws and regulations during the period between December 29th and January 2nd. The bill sponsored by Rep. Roger West (R-Cherokee) was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) back in June.

PETA went to Superior Court in Wake County to seek a preliminary injunction to stop the event. Judge James Roberson turned down their request in an order issued on December 14th.

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Organizers of this year’s New Year’s Eve ‘possum drop in Brasstown can use a live animal, a judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge James Roberson this week turned down a request for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented use of a real opossum for the annual event in western Clay County.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is suing over a law the General Assembly passed earlier this year that suspends enforcement of state wildlife rules regarding opossums a few days before and after New Year’s Eve. PETA says the law, sponsored by Rep. Roger West, R-Cherokee, is unconstitutional because it is special treatment for ‘possum drop organizers and makes it unclear what laws apply to people who work to return injured wildlife to their natural habitat.

Roberson wrote in an order filed Dec. 14 in Wake County, where the case is being heard, that PETA and other plaintiffs “have not shown the likelihood of success on the merits of the claims asserted in” their lawsuit so the request for an injunction should be denied. The decision still allows the lawsuit to go forward.

Undoubtedly this ruling will be appealed by PETA. They have another appeal pending before the NC Court of Appeals on the constitutionality of a previous law that exempted only Clay County from wildlife regulations during the period before and after New Year’s Eve.

Nonetheless, baring any last minute court orders, the event is on and Clay Logan is happy about it.

“I’m tickled. My plan’s just to have a live possum, carry on like we used to and have a good time,” said Clay Logan, event organizer and owner of Clay’s Corner store, in Clay County.

Despite all the claims of cruelty by PETA, I think if I were an opossum, I’d prefer to be in that plexiglass container being feed treats when you consider the alternative. The alternative being where most people see opossums – squished dead on the road.

A Tradition Returns

The “real” ‘Possum Drop returns!

Last year, Clay Logan, organizer of the annual New Year’s Eve Possum Drop held in Brasstown, North Carolina, had to resort to using an opaque box covered with pictures of an opossum.  That was because of a ruling that PETA won from an administrative law judge.

This year, tradition returns due to the General Assembly passing a law specifically allowing the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to issue permits for events such as the ‘Possum Drop.

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

The famous New Year’s Eve ’Possum Drop might be back to normal this year under a permit issued by North Carolina on Friday.

The state Wildlife Resources Commission says Clay Logan, owner of Clay’s Corner, has permission to capture an opossum, which he plans to lower in a clear plastic box in a parody of the ball drop in Times Square.

PETA is not taking this change in the law well. They plan to file a lawsuit in Raleigh to stop the event from using a live opossum.

Martina Bernstein, PETA’s director of litigation, said the group will be back in court Monday to argue the license fails to comply with state law.

“Opossums are shy, timid animals, and PETA has presented (the wildlife commission) with overwhelming evidence supporting its position that dangling a live opossum above a stage amid fireworks and raucous crowds is cruel and causes stress that is likely to kill the animal days or weeks after the event,” she said in a written statement.

If PETA is so unalterably opposed to this event, I might suggest Ms. Bernstein could volunteer to dress up as an opossum and take the place the live opossum being used in the ‘Possum Drop. She would be taking a risk as I’ve never seen an opossum yet that has safely made it across the road.

SB 60 – The Opossum Right-to-Work Act

If a bill passes the North Carolina General Assembly, the Possum Drop in Brasstown will be able to resume the New Year’s Eve tradition with a real, live opossum. Senators Jim Davis (R-Macon) and Stan Bingham (R-Davidson) have are the co-primary sponsors of SB 60. The bill is entitled “The Opossum Right-to-Work Act”.

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

With North Carolina’s legislature taking up a bill involving the fate of captive marsupials, a pair of lawmakers figured they might as well have some fun.

The “Opossum Right-to-Work Act” introduced Wednesday in the state Senate is identical to a House bill introduced earlier this week—except for the tongue-in-cheek title.

The measure gives the state Wildlife Resources Commission the explicit authority to permit the organizer of a New Year’s Eve Possum Drop to display a wild-caught animal. By tradition, the trapped opossum is suspended in a tinsel-covered box and gently lowered to the ground at midnight, then released.

Sen. Davis who represents that part of North Carolina said the Possum Drop was important to his constituents. The bill is designed to “to get these people (PETA) off their backs.”

The bill would rewrite sections of GS 113-272.5(a) and GS G.S. 113-274(c) to allow the Wildlife Resources Commission to issue permits to temporarily allow the possession of wild animals or wild birds for “scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes”.

Possum Drop Will Continue In Brasstown

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us and Clay Logan has said that the annual New Year’s Eve Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC is a go. However, thanks to PETA and a foolish administrative law judge it will be a modified possum drop. 

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Logan said Monday that he’s considering using a stuffed opossum or possibly a road-kill opossum.

ain’t going to deter us from having the event,” said Logan. He expects
the party to draw about 3,000 people to his store in Brasstown, about
two hours west of Asheville.

plenty more to see than just the ’possum drop, added Logan. There will
be music by a country and bluegrass band, a tribute to the men and women
who serve in the military and a ceremonial firing of muzzleloaders by
the Brasstown Brigade.

Frankly, I hope they use a road-kill opossum for the event and then send it to Judge Fred Morrison as a memento of his ruling. 

Clay Logan On The Possum Drop

The Possum Drop in Brasstown, North Carolina has been in the news a lot lately due to the suit brought by PETA to stop it. Cam Edwards of NRA News interviewed Clay Logan, owner of Clay’s Corner and the organizer of the Possum Drop, about his plans now that Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison, Jr. ruled in PETA’s favor.

In a rather humorous interview, Mr. Logan noted that in all the years that they’ve had the Possum Drop not one opossum get scared or traumatized enough to “play possum” or act dead. I believe that says something there.

While the New Year’s Eve festivities will continue in Brasstown, Mr. Logan said he didn’t know what the guest of honor would be. He was noncommittal on whether or not they will just ignore the judge’s ruling and use a live opossum.

Frankly if they aren’t allowed to use a live opossum, I think they should put Ingrid Newkirk in the cage and use her. I’m sure she wouldn’t object as it would be a human in the cage and not a four-legged critter.

Dead Possums Only For Possum Drop

As I wrote a couple of months ago, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was suing the NC Wildlife Resources Commission over the granting of a permit to the organizer of Brasstown’s Possum Drop. That event is held annually on New Year’s Eve and involves the lowering – not dropping – of a caged opossum to the ground in a take-off of Times Square’s dropping the ball.

It seems that PETA must have found the most gullible judge in North Carolina. Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison, Jr. ruled yesterday that the NCWRC cannot issue a permit to Clay Logan for the live trapping of a opossum. A dead opossum is OK with the judge but not a live one.

Logan had a sportsman’s license and could have killed the animal,
which was in season at the time. But he didn’t meet standards for either
a license or a permit to keep animals in captivity, PETA argued, and no
statute permitted the WRC to allow ‘possum-caging on a special and
temporary basis.

Morrison agreed. Killing the animal was lawful; confining it was not.

should therefore have instructed Logan to immediately release the
opossum into the wild where the opossum had been captured, or kill it,”
Morrison wrote in his order.

Judge Morrison went on to say:

“Hunters must afford wild animals the same right Patrick Henry yearned
for,” Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. wrote in his
order. “’Give me liberty, or give me death!’”

I’m sorry but Judge Morrison is an idiot. I suppose it would be considered harassment if I mailed Judge Morrison a road-kill possum or sent him a snide email. Given I don’t want either Postal Inspectors or FBI Special Agents knocking on my door, it is a nice idea but one on which I’ll pass.

The NCWRC has 30 days in which to decide to appeal this case to Wake County Superior Court. Frankly, I hope they do.

PETA Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone

Brasstown, North Carolina is a small little town in the far southwestern corner of the state. It is home to the John C. Campbell Folk School where they teach everything from woodworking to quilting to story-telling.

The Cherokee County town is also home to a quaint New Year’s Eve tradition called the Possum Drop. Held at Clay’s Corner, the Possum Drop actually involves the lowering -not dropping -of a live possum (oppossum, if you are a stickler for spelling) starting around 10pm. It is Brasstown’s answer to the dropping of the ball in Times Square. This event is unique enough to have caught the eye of CBS’s Bill Geist who did a story on it for CBS Sunday Morning.

Unfortunately, it has also caught the attention of the busybodies at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They are now taking the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to court for issuing a permit to the organizer of the Possum Drop, Clay Logan.


PETA attorney Martina Bernstein said possums are timid animals and can actually die from the stress. She likened the New Year’s Eve event to torture for the animal.

“It is something you wouldn’t do to your own dog or cat – have them hoisted up on a Plexiglas contraption for several hours with fireworks going off you know swinging in in the cold air,” Bernstein said.

She argued that the state permit for the event was improperly issued because North Carolina law doesn’t allow wild animals to be kept captive unless it’s for rehabilitation – and that requires a captive animal permit.

“There are very strict rules for that. It’s not a free-for-all,” she said. “But apparently the agency believes, if you don’t fit into these permits, we’re just going to make up something.”

Norman Young, the assistant attorney general representing the Wildlife Resources Commission, said the permit was legal. New Year’s Eve falls during possum season in the state, so Logan’s hunting license allows him to trap one for the drop, he said.

“(This is) an event that does not show any particular harm to the opossum and I might add doesn’t meet the elements of the animal cruelty statute,” Young said.

Senior Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. refused the state’s motion for the case to be dismissed which means that the case will live for another month.

The last time that PETA threatened a suit over this Mr. Logan resorted to using a roadkill ‘possum which didn’t thrill the New Year’s Eve revelers. If PETA does win, the state’s assistant attorney general says it would be entirely legal for Mr. Logan to kill a oppossum, keep it in his freezer, and then put the frozen carcass in the plexiglass box on New Year’s Eve.

My suggestion to PETA and one that I think at least the men in the Brasstown community would appreciate is for them to volunteer one of their brainless – but attractive – starlet backers to be put in the box and lowered on New Year’s Eve.  Naked, of course, since wearing any fur would be against their principles which we couldn’t have.