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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:

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

Aug 27, 2014 Rosalia Cassinelli
Aug 27, 2014 francesco giovanati
Aug 26, 2014 szilvia rozman
Aug 26, 2014 Lucille Liezau
Aug 26, 2014 Rebekah Baldwin
Aug 26, 2014 Terezie Janulova
Aug 26, 2014 Cassandra Davidson
Aug 26, 2014 Juliet Waldron Disgusting cruelty to a living, feeling creature...even PA has managed to stop it's old bad habit of pigeon slaughter as "fun."
Aug 26, 2014 LuAnn Kremer
Aug 26, 2014 Angela Soto
Aug 26, 2014 Carmen Williams
Aug 26, 2014 SAndra Marquez
Aug 26, 2014 Laura Stanley
Aug 26, 2014 janine franco
Aug 26, 2014 Barbara Griffin
Aug 26, 2014 Alicia Comstock
Aug 26, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 26, 2014 Lori Korunka
Aug 26, 2014 Naomi Curtis
Aug 26, 2014 frances rossi Humans are the most disgraceful animals that walk the planet!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aug 26, 2014 Christa Bøttger It s not celebration, it is CRUELTY to animals and not worthy for human beings
Aug 26, 2014 Celeste Grobler Even though their not hurting the possum, I don't find it entertaining for an animal in a box...
Aug 26, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 25, 2014 Maria Ignez SantAnna
Aug 25, 2014 Nancy Hoffman
Aug 25, 2014 Roy Krymis
Aug 25, 2014 Martina Jerabek
Aug 25, 2014 Kathleen Taylor
Aug 25, 2014 Jo Johnson
Aug 25, 2014 Mary Guillet
Aug 25, 2014 pam forrester
Aug 25, 2014 Cindy Silva
Aug 25, 2014 Dawn Ferreira
Aug 25, 2014 Jeanette Estrada
Aug 25, 2014 Pat Ruotolo
Aug 25, 2014 Amy Bowers
Aug 25, 2014 Laura Brasile
Aug 25, 2014 Laura Tester
Aug 25, 2014 Leslie Gitlin
Aug 25, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 25, 2014 Janis Aitken
Aug 25, 2014 Doris Gruehling
Aug 25, 2014 Crystal Reese
Aug 24, 2014 Clara Jacobson What kind of sick people would participate in such a sadistic "celebration?" This should be illegal and any participants should be in jail and never be allowed to walk freely among decent people.
Aug 24, 2014 palmira bodini
Aug 24, 2014 Andrea Innerarity
Aug 24, 2014 Katelyn Lenart
Aug 24, 2014 Suzanne McClain
Aug 24, 2014 Helena van Dierendonck leave animals out of human entertainment, they do not belong there

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