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Annual ‘Possum Drop’ to|Be Opossum Free in N.C.

(CN) - The organizer of the annual New Year's Eve "Possum Drop" in Brasstown, N.C., said the event will go on this year, without a live opossum.

Clay Logan, a convenience store owner who has organized the event for more than 20 years announced today that use of a live opossum will be put on hold until a pending lawsuit filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is resolved.

During a serious of interviews, Logan declared that "Neither rain, storm, sleet or dark of night will stop the 'Possum Drop,'" which he characterized as "clean family fun" and "a good old redneck good time."

PETA sued North Carolina in January 2012 and again in November 2013 to stop North Carolina's Wildlife Resources Commission from issuing license for the possession and exhibition of a live opossum for the event.

In response, Logan used a road-kill opossum, and he told Asheville Citizen-Times on Monday that he just may do so again.

In its lawsuits, PETA says the state "lacks the authority to issue a permit or license for the possession and exhibition of a live opossum at the Opossum Drop," because Logan is not is not trained or qualified to work with wild animals.

It also accused the Wildlife Commission of creating a special permit so he could hold the event.

Logan has vowed to go back to using a live opossum if and when a judge rules in the state's favor.

In addition to the 'Possum Drop" the festivities at the annual event include bluegrass music and a contest in which men dressed in drag compete to be crowned "Miss Possum Queen."

On a website Logan maintains for the event, he states: "We treat our little friend with respect, hold him in awe, and do not inflict any injury or traumatize God's crease of the night."

Wikipedia reports: "Animal is lowered carefully to prevent the occurrence of injury or trauma," and, "The opossum is not actually 'dropped' as with most events of this kind. Federal and state animal permits are obtained in advance and the opossum is released afterwards."

PETA describes the even differently, in its new lawsuit in Wake County Court: "At the event, a live opossum is typically confined in a small clear Plexiglas box and hoisted approximately 20 to 40 feet into the air with a pulley rope. The animal remains suspended for approximately two hours, exposed to firework, loud music amplified by loudspeakers, floodlights and flash photography, and the sounds and glare of muskets and a cannon being fired, while hundreds (or several thousands, according to Logan's media interviews) of people clap, sing, laugh, shout and cheer loudly, accompanied by a range of shrill and high-pitched noisemakers."

"There's nothing festive about tormenting a timid opossum," said general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr in a statement released Monday. "Brasstown can throw a grand party without engaging in cruelty to animals."

Wake County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour denied the state's motion to dismiss the lawsuit on December 12, 2013.

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