The Possum Drop
The Possum Drop is any one of several New Year's Day celebrations in which a possum is lowered from height at midnight. In contrast to other events of its kind, which typically involve replicas, a "possum drop" uses a live animal as its prop.
In Brasstown, North Carolina an annual event at Clay's Corner convenience store is organized by proprietors Clay and Judy Logan. At midnight on New Year's Eve, instead of dropping an inanimate object, a plexiglass pyramid containing a live opossum was lowered from the roof of the store. The animal is lowered carefully to prevent the occurrence of injury. The opossum is not actually "dropped;" as with most events of its kind, it is lowered in the same manner as a time ball.
Federal and state animal permits are obtained in advance and the opossum is released afterwards. The festivities include a contest with local men dressed as women to compete for the title "Miss Possum Queen" as well as bluegrass music, snacks and beverages, and souvenir merchandise.
In Tallapoosa, Georgia Danny Welch organizes the nationally known annual event which attracted over 6000 visitors to the Possum Drop in Tallapoosa, Ga. New Year's Eve 2014. "The Return" http://www.thereturnonline.com/index.html a Beatles Tribute Band which has preformed at famous events and venues around the world provided music for the event. While "Spencer" the Famous Possum is an attraction for those attending, many visitors have chosen and are attracted to the Hometown "Mayberry" type atmosphere of Tallapoosa, Ga. as their place to celebrate New Year's Eve. The Possum Drop festivities include food vendors, T-shirts and souvenirs, live music, and fireworks after midnight. The Master of Ceremonies is nationally known Radio Legend Rhubarb Jones. Attendance in recent years has been in excess of 5000 which varies because of the weather as it is an outdoor event. This event differs from the one in Brasstown, NC due to the usage of a taxidermied possum rather than a live one. Also, organizers are more focused on the music, entertainment, community involvement, economic development and local businesses at the Possum Drop in Tallapoosa, Ga. rather than the opossum itself.
A Possum is a part of the towns history. http://www.tallapoosaga.gov/abouttallapoosa/history/ Before the Tallapoosa post office was established in 1839, the town was known as "Possum Snout". Spencer the famous possum is suspended in a wire ball wrapped with Christmas lights and is kept at ground level most of the night to allow spectators to see and have pictures taken with him. At about 11:30 PM he is raised to his full height to the top of the American Hometown Realty Building and at midnight amidst great fanfare and cheers is slowly lowered to the ground to signify the start of the new year. A living animal is not lowered: Spencer was a real opossum found dead in the wild and was stuffed by local taxidermist Bud Jones. Spencer's name is a tribute to Ralph L. Spencer.
The event has grown over the last five years and attracts visitors from across the country who travel to Tallapoosa, Ga to celebrate New Year's Eve. Thousands visit The Possum Drop Tallapoosa, Ga. web site http://www.thepossumdrop.com/index.html from around the world each year. The event has caught the attention of local and national media. The Learning Channel(TLC) chose The Possum Drop in Tallapoosa, Ga. as the location to film the New Years Special for one of their hit series. Photos from the 2014 event can be viewed on the events facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1570474263164847.1073741857.1558440851034855&type=1
Possum drops have been subject to criticism and protest from PETA, an organization that considers the drop a form of animal cruelty. PETA successfully sued to stop the 2013 Brasstown possum drop, under the premise that the state wildlife commission did not have the authority to issue the permits for such an event. North Carolina General Statue 113-274-(c)-(1c) appears to authorize the state wildlife commission to issue such permits.
In spite, the organizers used a dead opossum instead, after deciding they could not afford legal expenses that could result from defying PETA's request as they had originally planned to do. PETA did not object to using an already dead animal. The North Carolina legislature passed a law in 2013 to expressly allow the commission to issue such permits, and the Brasstown event resumed in 2014.
Brasstown received more national attention for the 2015 New Year Possum Drop when PETA again filed a motion to prevent Clay Logan from obtaining a capture permit; Logan had already decided, due to time concerns, not to obtain a state permit for that year's drop. Instead, a dead possum either deceased of natural causes or legally hunted, will be dropped. There is no bag limit on possums during the possum hunting season in North Carolina.
- Clay's Corner - Opossum Capital of the World - Clay & Judy Logan Proprietors http://www.clayscorner.com
- New Years Eve Lowering of the Opossum http://www.clayscorner.com/new-years-eve.shtml
- "We treat our little friend with respect they say but others argue this is not the case. We hold him in awe, and do not inflict any injury or traumatize God's creature of the night." http://www.clayscorner.com/
- BlueRidgeHighlander.com - Events & Festivals in the Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains http://www.theblueridgehighlander.com/calendar/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=2647
- JEFFREY GETTLEMAN (December 31, 2003). "Keep Your Ball. We’ve Got the Possum.". The New York Times.
- Mountain Manager & Associates http://www.mountainmanager.net/localinterest.htm
- The Possum Drop http://www.thepossumdrop.com/
- WSBTV.com - Entertainment - Story: Georgia Town Celebrates New Years With Possum Drop http://www.wsbtv.com/entertainment/22103037/detail.html
- RoadsideGeorgia.com http://roadsidegeorgia.com/city/tallapoosa.html
- A New Year's Tradition Lives, But the 4-Legged Star Doesn't. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9802E7DF1631F931A35752C0A9629C8B63
- Shaffer, Josh (November 13, 2012). "NC judge halts Brasstown's Opossum Drop". Raleigh News-Observer. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
- N.C.G.S 113-274
- Jarvis, Craig (December 29, 2014). ‘Possum Drop’ organizer won’t use live opossum this year. Charlotte Observer. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
- "Controversial possum drop prevails in NC". WTVR. Tribune Broadcasting. Retrieved 2 January 2014.