Sunday, January 04, 2004

There's always a wet blanket

Threat of lawsuit takes life out of Possum Drop
BRASSTOWN, N.C. -- For the past 12 years, on New Year's Eve, this Appalachian town has lowered a possum in a Plexiglas cage from the roof of a gas station at the stroke of midnight. It is called the Possum Drop, and hundreds of people pack downtown Brasstown to see it.
With just hours to go before the festivities, Clay Logan, host of the Possum Drop, said he got a call from a national animal rights organization threatening to sue him for animal cruelty if he used a live possum.
Oh, puhleeze! You can just imagine the little wankers hovering over the phones on New Year's eve.
Since 1991, Logan has used live possums, trapped by hunters, fattened on cat food and turned loose after they are lowered slowly by a rope from the roof of his gas station.

On Wednesday, the day the New York Times published a piece on the Possum Drop, Logan got a call from a man who said he represented People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, headquartered in Norfolk, Va.

Debbie Leahy, director of PETA's captive animals and entertainment issues, said she did not know which member made the call, but she said the event was "perverse, reckless and terrifying to the possum."
"But I can't fight these people," he said. "Not with lawyers and all."
Typical. And the country cousin wasn't savvy enough in city ways to call their bluff.

However, anyone who has had any first hand experience with possums knows that they aren't, shall we say, too "sprightly". Even more than cat food, what they mostly like is a good snooze. So Clay had a solution - roadkill:
So, with hours to go and the crowd building, Logan put the word out: Find me a possum, a dead one.

The drop has had setbacks before. Snow, rain, lighting problems. But there had always been a possum.

Finally, Logan's friends found a downed possum in pretty good shape and quickly hoisted it up to the roof of the Citgo station. Most people thought it was alive, even after Logan announced it was roadkill.
As fireworks popped and lovers kissed, the dead possum swung from a Citgo sign. And as the festivities ended, many revelers trudged away, saying their small-town fun had been spoiled by big-city ways.

"Hell of a way to start the new year, saluting a dead possum," said Steve Barringer, a blacksmith.
You can visit the Brasstown folks at Watch out for the Hillbilly Bubble Bath though.