A longtime New Year's Eve tradition in North Carolina appears to have finally come to a close. The Wall Street Journal reports that, after years of protests by animal rights activists, the town of Andrews won't carry out its holiday "Possum Drop," in which a live possum is lowered in a glass box as the clock strikes 12. The controversial tradition originated in nearby Brasstown, where it was carried out for decades, but it moved in 2018 to Andrews when founder Clay Logan retired. The event constantly drew backlash from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups, which insisted the practice was cruel, as it could could hurt, spook, or stress out the nocturnal animal. Some protesters have even targeted a North Carolina law that exempts the Virginia possum from wildlife protections for five days around the new year just to allow the Possum Drop to take place.
The last straw in Andrews was the apparent injury of Millie, the possum used in last year's Possum Drop. Per Courthouse News, two animal rights groups say Millie had been used despite having a leg injury likely caused during the trapping process, and that her leg had to eventually be amputated. Andrews Mayor James Reid says the backlash that resulted from that news just wasn't worth it anymore, and that they'd use a stuffed possum from now on. "Times are changing," Reid tells the Journal. "Our plan is to have an awesome party and not have any live animals involved whatsoever." Meanwhile, the town of Marion, Va., has come up with its own version of the Possum Drop that's less likely to be a lightning rod: It will lower a papier-mache possum filled with candy and other treats, per WCYB. (Read more strange stuff stories.)