At right, the 2008 Possum Drop featured a stand-in raccoon. This year organizers are on the lookout for the namesake marsupial, opossum.
In the past four years, whenever Cowboy Church began preparations for its annual New Year’s Eve Possum Drop, coming up with the honored guest was as simple as spreading the word a living marsupial was sought.
This year however, the Jerusalem/Henderson Mountain area has apparently run temporarily dry of opossums, says Cowboy Church Director Rebecca Hampton.
“There are always plenty of ‘possums out here, until you need one,” said Hampton Tuesday morning.
In years past, organizers have caught the guest of honor early on and then caged and fed it until the big night.
And, lest ‘possum-rights folk grow alarmed, when the gala midnight arrives, the drop includes a lighted cage lowered safely, so the featured critter can be released later, a bit jazzed maybe but unharmed.
When asked why they use an opossum at Cowboy Church, Hampton replied, “In New York they have an apple. In Atlanta, they have a peach,” she said. “We wanted something country, and a horse is too big.”
Hampton said she has found an opossum each year by the hour of need, including one year when someone jumped out of a truck and grabbed one not long before show time.
The first year, however, the honored Mr. P made a getaway shortly before the precipitous plunge. That year Hampton’s ever-resourceful supporters hit the woods again, only to turn up a raccoon, who filled in handsomely for the missing marsupial (the ringtail, no doubt, grinning like a ‘possum all the way).
Hampton advises caution to anyone who spots a ‘possum they aim to snag for the event. “You can catch it at the back of the neck, but you better be sure you get the back of the neck,” she advised.
Opossums can pack a nasty bite and tend to show a touch of temper when messed with.
Opossum, raccoon or some new species, the New Year’s Eve celebration at Cowboy Church will feature a performance by gospel/rock group Jeremiah and the Well Experience plus some dancing and good food. The family-friendly event is geared mainly for kids. Kids with the Cowboy Church’s praise and dance teams may also perform.
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