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 to prevent the occurrence of injury, however it is dangled in the cold air for hours before midnight. The opossum is not actually "dropped;" events of its kind, it is lowered in the same manner as a time ball.
In Tallapoosa, Georgia Danny Welch organizes the annual event. The Possum Drop festivities include food vendors, T-shirts and souvenirs, live music, and fireworks after midnight. The Master of Ceremonies for the 2018 celebration is George Franco with Fox 5 News in Atlanta. Attendance in recent years has been in excess of 7000. This event differs from the one in Brasstown, NC due to the usage of a taxidermied possum rather than a live one.
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. 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 their hit series "Here comes Honey Boo Boo" which will air in February or March 2014
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 of this, 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 Thousands local residents and from all over the US signed petitions to stop this event using a live opossum.
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.
- Clay's Corner - Clay & Judy Logan Proprietors http://www.clayscorner.com
- New Years Eve Lowering of the Opossum http://www.clayscorner.com/new-years-eve.shtml
- 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. https://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.