Maybe it’s the time of year (pardons and all), maybe it’s a full moon rising, or maybe it’s just the reverbs of Friday the 13th, but this week brought us some quirky stories about yearning to be free and hoped-for redemption — some old, some new and some ongoing.
Free the Possum. Clay County opossums got a break yesterday when Wake County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour ruled that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals could move ahead with its lawsuit to halt the annual Brasstown New Year’s Eve “Possum Drop.”
During the drop, held in the small town of Brasstown, a live possum in a Plexiglass box (with air holes) is lowered from a pole at a local convenience store, amidst fireworks and crowds of people.
It’s been a New Year’s Eve happening for years:
The tradition stretches back roughly two decades, when gas-station owner Clay Logan and a group of friends got the idea to celebrate the hillbilly way of life by lowering an opossum, a fixture on the dark mountain roads in Clay County, about 100 miles southwest of Asheville. “If New York can drop a ball and Atlanta can drop a peach, then we can lower a possum,” Mr. Logan said.
And it draws big crowds, including House Speaker Thom Tillis,who lowered the box in 2012.
PETA argues that the drop scares the animals to death. The group successfully stopped the drop last New Year’s Eve and is hoping to do so again through the pending lawsuit.
But state lawmakers say the drop is just fun, and this past year passed a law which allows the issuance of a permit to hold a wild animal “for scientific, educational, exhibition or other purposes.” Governor Pat McCrory signed the new law, originally called the “Opossum Right to Work Act,” this past March.
Up next, “Free Bubba.” According to this report, Bubba the fugitive “ram on the lamb,” was finally captured this week after months of wandering through parts of the Triangle:
The animal suddenly appeared in a residential neighborhood, near the Streets at Southpoint Mall in late summer. Neighbors called the authorities and soon the Durham County Sheriff’s Office was on the case.
The animal was spotted at an abandoned house in the 1500-block of Cornwallis Road and later visited GlaxoSmithKline in RTP. He also popped up on lawns and access roads.
Earlier this week, the hunt came to an end. Bubba had settled in near the 2200 block of Glover Road. He began to damage windows and doors in an attempt to head-butt offending reflections of himself. He caused approximately $5,000 in damage.
Apparently it took some luring with fresh apples and oats and a custom-built pen to bring Bubba in:
Still not free. No one’s quite sure what’s going on with UNC guards P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald, who’ve yet to play this season and are likely to miss tomorrow’s game against Kentucky.
Questions have dogged the pair since the summer — Hairston for driving rental cars somehow connected to Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a Durham resident and convicted felon, and McDonald for wearing a designer mouth guard and appearing in promotions for Iceberg Guards, the mouth guard company.
Tar Heel coach Roy Williams told the News & Observer that he didn’t know anything about how an NCAA investigation would continue, but he wasn’t optimistic that it would be soon.
“I would be stunned if I were to go upstairs and somebody would say those guys are eligible to (play) today,” Williams said.
Fans are getting anxious.