Question: Whatever happened to the New Year's Eve Possum Drop in Brasstown, N.C., after the practice of lowering a live opossum at midnight was banned by a judge?
Answer: For 19 years, the New Year didn't arrive in Brasstown until a Plexiglass box holding a live opossum was lowered to the ground at Clay's Corner gas station.
After People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued store owner Clay Logan for animal cruelty, a judge banned the practice. But hundreds still turned out in Brasstown -- about 100 miles from Chattanooga -- on New Year's Eve to see whether Logan would flout the judge's ruling or comply with it.
Logan kept them guessing. At midnight, an opaque box obscured with opossum photos was lowered to the ground. Was an opossum inside? Logan says he'll never tell.
"Can you keep a secret?" he asks. "Well, so can I."
Two Western North Carolina legislators have taken the fight for the locally cherished event to the capital, dubbing the state Senate's version of a bill allowing the drop as the "Opossum Right-to-Work Act."
PETA enlisted game show celebrity Bob Barker to lobby against the bill, but it passed the Legislature overwhelmingly.
If Gov. Pat McCrory signs it, Logan says, folks at the store will celebrate in some fashion.
"We will crack open a pack of chewing gum or opossum hors d'oeuvre," he says.
But mainly they will begin planning the Possum Drop for 2014.
This update was written by staff writer Kate Harrison. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6673. To suggest a topic for Whatever happened to, email email@example.com.