The Annual Clay's Corner Possum Drop is still on for New Year's Eve in Brasstown, N.C. – but without an actual living, breathing opossum.
Responding to a lawsuit from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, country store owner Clay Logan said Monday he won't lower a live opossum in a box Wednesday night – a 21-year New Year's countdown tradition in his tiny Smoky Mountains town.
PETA had sued to stop the event, attended by up to 3,000 people. In a letter to a North Carolina judge, Logan promised not to put a live opossum in the plexiglass box he lowers from a light pole every New Year's Eve outside his store.
"We'll still do something – maybe some roadkill or a pot of stewed possum," Logan said by phone Monday as he prepared for the event.
PETA has said the Possum Drop subjects the wild animals to stress and trauma that could kill them.
"There's nothing festive about tormenting a timid opossum," PETA general counsel Jeffrey Kerr said in a statement Monday. "Brasstown can throw a grand party without engaging in cruelty to animals."
Logan said the opossums are released unharmed after each Possum Drop. (He lowered a dead opossum one year in response to PETA objections).
PETA's statement said, "Even if the animals are released alive, they may die later of 'capture myopathy,' a cascading series of catastrophic physical reactions to stress or trauma."
In a letter to Judge Fred D. Morrison Jr., Logan asked that PETA members be kept 1,000 yards from the event. "For years, they have harassed me, my business and our community behind the cloak and protection of the legal system," Logan wrote.
Morrison responded in an email to Logan: "I trust that no one will harass you or interfere with this annual celebration."