As the year-end approaches, the internally redundant question that is often asked and repeated by the likes of Johnny Mathis, Harry Connick, and Rod Stewart is: “What are you doing New Year’s…New Year’s Eve?” A popular New Year’s activity is to watch people drop things. This is usually done while consuming copious amounts of alcohol and so the most commonly dropped item is one’s inhibitions, but there are any number of more tangible items to watch being dropped all around the world.
Perhaps the best-known dropped item is New York’s Times Square ball. This is a tradition that started over 100 years ago and has more recently come to symbolize how many times Mayor Michael “Compared To Me Scrooge McDuck Is A Pauper” Bloomberg has himself dropped the ball during his administration. About a million people cram Times Square annually to watch the ball drop live and in color, and it is estimated that over a billion people watch it happen on TV (also in color), making it the world’s most viewed pigmented event in celebration of arbitrary time passage.
Admittedly, the ball-drop has been a staple in our house where we combine it with blankets, hot cocoa, and an entirely inappropriate but utterly hilarious impression of a post-stroke Dick Clark countdown by our youngest daughter, Thing 2. But since Dick’s passing this year, we feel we must move on to find another dropped item to view as we can’t help but pine for the remaining hosts to stop the banal celebrity and on-street interviews and instead duke it out in a metrosexual pretty-boy cage fight.
After a bit of wiki.research, we found that people are dropping things all over the place for escapist New Year celebratory enjoyment. Eastport, Maine drops a sardine. Mobile, Alabama drops a giant Moon Pie. And Gainesville, Georgia drops “Chuck the Chicken.” Pennsylvania is the state with the most item-drops however, prompting them to change their state motto to “The Big Droppings State.” They drop everything from antique trunks and French fries to pickles, peeps, pretzels, yellow pants, and in Strasburg, a giant load of ping pong balls—which always has Mr. Green Jeans on edge.
While these are all very interesting and inconsequential traditions, I think we will be heading to Brasstown, N.C. and Clay’s Corner Convenience Store for their annual Possum Drop. What they do is catch an opossum and lower it from the roof of the store inside a plexiglass pyramid into a throng of raucous reveling rednecks, then set it free to return to its idyllic life of rural, pastoral possumness. The festival also includes live music, the crowning of Miss Possum, and of course, gunfire.
Unfortunately the event this year will not involve a live possum, as PETA (aptly played by Josh Hutcherson in “The Hunger Games”) got all sorts of lawyers involved and forced an injunction against the practice. PETA claims that possums are terrorized and disoriented by crowds and loud noise, which is one reason you rarely see them at a Stones concert.
Therefore Clay’s Corner, whose website will allow you to enter to win a free can of opossum, will have to seek a substitute and is seriously considering using roadkill this year. PETA is okay with this because it is evidently more humane to run over an animal with one’s truck than to catch and release. It is also evidently more humane to drop a drag queen in a giant slipper (not a euphemism)–which they do in Key West–than it is to drop a woodland creature, as the band of blissful PETA barristers have very little to say about it.
The question a cultural battle such as this inevitably brings up is, “What is the difference between an ‘opossum’ and a ‘possum’?” While your average biologist would point out that both are marsupials, one of the family Phalangeridae and the other of the family Didelphimorphia, your average blogger would be asleep by now.
And on that note, Happy New Year everybody! Thanks for making this the most read blog that I have personally started this year. May the coming annual find your possum droppings PETA-free.