“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.
Logan had just gotten the news that Wake County Superior Court Judge James K. Roberson had denied a motion from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — PETA — to approve a preliminary injunction on this year’s New Year’s celebration. Basically, a preliminary injunction would have meant that the judge felt there was a good chance PETA would win its pending court case protesting Brasstown’s custom of ringing in the New Year by lowering a live possum. If granted, the injunction would have forbid Logan from repeating the tradition until after the court had made its final ruling.
The motion’s denial doesn’t mean PETA is giving up. The animal rights group is confident in its position and determined to end what it sees as meaningless cruelty to the marsupials.
“North Carolina’s most recent effort to legalize cruelty to opossums for a tawdry New Year’s Eve event is as flawed as last year’s opossum statute, which the North Carolina Superior Court found to be likely unconstitutional,” said Jeff Kerr, general consul for PETA. “While PETA was denied a preliminary injunction today, we will take this case forward because we are determined to end an event that harms and harasses wildlife.”
The court battle over Brasstown’s Possum Drop began in 2012, when PETA filed a lawsuit decrying the drop as animal abuse. In 2013, the N.C. General Assembly passed a law — sponsored by Rep. Roger West, R-Marble — exempting Clay County, where the event is held, from possum-related laws between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 of each year. PETA then filed another suit, claiming that this specialized exemption could have widespread implications for possums and is essentially favoritism, giving one county the right to play by different rules from the rest of the state. The current suit stems from a 2014 law, which replaces the 2013 legislation and widens the temporary exemption to include the whole state.
North Carolina had filed a motion to dismiss this fall, but Roberson struck it down earlier this month. Logan had feared that decision boded ill for the final outcome, but he’s celebrating this next turn of events.
“They sell it like it’s the most evil thing in the world that we do, and we don’t do nothing to harm the possum whatsoever,” he said.
So, barring any more court action between now and Dec. 31, the 21st Annual Clay’s Corner Possum Drop is set to go, and Logan’s looking forward to the whole thing, from the Miss Possum cross-dressing contest for men to the recognition of those who have served in the military to the final countdown and lowering of the possum.