"We put [the possum] in a little cage and it's let down real easy, it don't get hurt, we take really good care of it," a Brasstown resident says in the video. "This keeps animal lovers off our back.... We don't mistreat animals in this end of the country because we know all about possums. We've hunted them, we've eaten them, we've killed them.... There's plenty of possums here."
But Kerr said mistreatment is part of the tradition.
“Opossums are shy, reclusive animals, and humans are their primary predators," he said. “At the event, they dangle this opossum in a box above a rowdy crowd of more than 1,000 people and force it to endure a terrifying mix of screaming, thumping, music and fireworks -- all in the name of some kind of entertainment.”
Regardless of what happens this year, Kerr said, PETA will “keep fighting for the opossums.”
The organization is unsure what it will do next.
“The event can go on.… We don’t care if they have a party,” Kerr said. “We just don’t think they should be able to torture an animal in the process.”
The 20th annual New Year's Eve Possum Drop is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Visit North Carolina tourism website. There will be a Miss Possum contest, bluegrass music, Little Brasstown Church Choir, cider and "good clean fun."