State lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to legislation allowing Brasstown's annual New Year's Eve Possum Drop to continue.
The measure is headed to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.
Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon, explained the Possum Drop to his colleagues.
"They take a live, well-fed, happy opossum, and they put the possum in a Plexiglas box and lower it," he said. "It reaches the ground very gently at the stroke of midnight."
Davis said the yearly event usually draws several thousand people. No alcohol is allowed.
"It’s a good, wholesome event. It’s an economic development tool for the area," he told the Senate. "This essentially gives the Wildlife Resources Commission the authority to issue them a permit for this event and other like-minded events that may occur in North Carolina."
Davis said his mind wasn't changed by a letter he received from longtime game-show host and animal welfare activist Bob Barker.
"If you would think for a moment," Davis joked, referring to Barker's famous tag line, "If you could ask an opossum...would you rather be gently lowered in a Plexiglas box or be spayed or neutered?"
Sen. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, called that "the unkindest cut of all."
The measure passed 41-2. The senators voting against it were Angela Bryant, D-Nash, and Trudy Wade, R-Guilford.
"It appears to be cruel and disturbing to the animal solely for the purpose of human entertainment," Bryant said after the vote. "I think that's a dangerous cultural message. What 's then to keep a child from trying to duplicate that in some way with another animal or pet?"
"I just think of my kitties and I don't think it's good public policy," Bryant added. "I wish they could drop something inanimate and be happy."