HistoryOutdoorsTravelTravel Guide

Possum Monument: Why This Florida Roadside Oddity is Worth a Visit

The Possum Monument is an unusual attraction tucked away in the small town of Wausau, Florida. Known for its quirky charm and unique appeal, this monument has become a symbol of local pride and a key part of the community’s identity. The monument itself is a simple stone structure, standing proudly in the town park, with a bronze statue of a possum at its peak.

Wausau is situated in the heart of Florida’s panhandle, surrounded by the state’s lush natural beauty. It’s a place that many might overlook on a map, but once you’ve heard about the Possum Monument, it’s hard not to be intrigued. This roadside oddity has put Wausau on the map for curious travelers and lovers of the unusual.

The Possum Monument is more than just a statue; it’s a testament to the town’s history and a celebration of its resilient spirit. Though it may seem strange to some, for the people of Wausau, the possum is a creature worthy of commemoration. So, if you’re ever in the area, don’t miss the chance to visit this peculiar piece of Floridian folklore.

How Did Wausau Become the ‘Possum Capital of the World’?

Wausau, a small town in Florida, has affectionately been dubbed the ‘Possum Capital of the World’. This unusual title reflects the abundance of possums in the area and the town’s unique relationship with these creatures. According to an article on Atlas Obscura, Wausau is home to more possums than humans, making it a haven for these furry marsupials.

The story behind how Wausau earned its title is rooted in the town’s history and its affinity for this nocturnal animal. As documented by a trusted source, Roadside America, possums have lived in the region for centuries, co-existing with the local community. Over time, the people of Wausau developed a deep appreciation for possums, recognizing their value in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

But there’s more to Wausau’s title as the ‘Possum Capital’ than just the sheer number of possums in the area. The town’s residents have embraced the possum as a part of their identity, celebrating it in ways that have drawn attention far beyond the confines of their small community. For example, the annual Wausau Possum Festival, established in 1970 by Dalton Carter, celebrates the Virginia opossum and has become a local tradition, as stated on the festival’s Facebook page.

In essence, Wausau’s status as the ‘Possum Capital of the World’ is a testament to both the abundance of possums in the area and the town’s enduring love for these creatures. It’s a title that Wausau wears with pride, further cementing its reputation as a place where the unusual is celebrated.

The History of the Possum Monument

The history of the Possum Monument in Wausau, Florida, is as unique as the monument itself. According to an article on Atlas Obscura, the monument was unveiled in August 1982 as a permanent tribute to the possum. Standing at a height of 12 feet, this stone structure is inscribed with the words: 

“Erected in Grateful Recognition of the Role the North American Virginia Opossum, a Magnificent Survivor of the Marsupial Family Prehistoric Origin Has Played in Furnishing Both Food and Fur for the Early Settlers and Their Successors. Their Presence Here Has Provided a Source of Wholesome Food in Normal Times and a Survival Food in Times of Drought and Other Natural Disasters.”

The decision to erect the Possum Monument was not made lightly. As stated on Roadside America, the monument pays tribute to the marsupial for its significant role in providing sustenance to area residents during both good times and bad. The possum was a readily available source of food and fur for the early settlers and continued to be a resource for their successors.

According to Explore Southern History, the Possum Monument stands by State Highway 77, becoming a favorite spot for roadside pictures. It serves as a reminder of the importance of the possum to the local community and their history.

In 1982, the same year the monument was erected, the Florida Legislature passed a resolution declaring the first Saturday of August as Possum Day, as mentioned in Three Modern Nomads. This further solidified the possum’s place in the town’s cultural identity and history. The Possum Monument is not just a tribute to a creature, but a testament to the town’s resilience and appreciation for the natural world around them.

Why Is the Possum Celebrated in Wausau?

The possum holds a special place in the hearts of the residents of Wausau, Florida. This nocturnal marsupial has played a significant role in the town’s history, providing food and fur for the early settlers and their successors, according to Florida Backroads Travel. Over time, the possum has become a symbol of resilience and survival, much like the town of Wausau itself.

Every year, the town pays homage to the possum with the annual Wausau Possum Festival. Created in 1970 by Dalton Carter, this event celebrates the possum and its importance to the local community. As reported by WJHG, the festival includes live entertainment, a parade, vendors, and music, making it a highlight of the town’s social calendar.

Below are some reasons why the possum is celebrated in Wausau:

  • Historical Significance: The possum has been a part of Wausau’s history since the early days of the town. As a readily available source of food and fur, possums helped the early settlers survive and thrive in the region. (Florida Backroads Travel)
  • Symbol of Resilience: Just like the town of Wausau, the possum is a creature of resilience and survival. These traits have made the possum a fitting symbol for the town and its people. (WJHG)
  • Cultural Tradition: The annual Wausau Possum Festival is a cultural tradition that brings the community together. It’s an event that not only celebrates the possum but also strengthens the town’s sense of community and shared history. (Wausau Possum Festival Facebook Page)
  • Endearing Oddity: The celebration of the possum adds to the charm of Wausau. It’s a unique quirk that sets the town apart and attracts visitors from far and wide. (Visit WCFLA)

The Annual Possum Festival

The Annual Possum Festival, held in Wausau, Florida, is a unique celebration that honors the humble possum. As reported by Florida Backroads Travel, this event occurs on the first Saturday of August every year, a tradition sanctioned by the Florida Legislature. The festival was developed in 1970 and has since become a significant part of the town’s cultural identity.

The festival is not just about celebrating possums but also about bringing the community together. According to WJHG, the 54th Annual Wausau Fun Day & Possum Festival kicked off with live entertainment, vendors, music, and more. The event has grown over the years, attracting visitors from far and wide and serving as a testament to the town’s enduring love for the possum.

Here’s what you can expect from the Annual Possum Festival:

  • Live Entertainment: The festival kicks off with live performances, creating a lively atmosphere for attendees. (WJHG)
  • Community Engagement: The festival draws people from all walks of life, promoting community engagement and camaraderie. (Visit WCFLA)
  • Possum-Themed Activities: From possum auctions to crowning the ‘Possum King’, the festival is filled with fun and quirky possum-themed activities. (Foster Folly News)
  • Culinary Delights: Attendees can enjoy a variety of food options, including possum dishes for the adventurous foodies. (My Panhandle)

In essence, the Annual Possum Festival is more than just a celebration of the possum. It’s a celebration of community spirit, local history, and the unique charm that sets Wausau apart.

Visiting the Possum Monument: What to Expect

The Possum Monument in Wausau, Florida, is a unique roadside attraction that has fascinated visitors for years. As an emblem of the town’s history and culture, it stands as a testament to the humble possum’s significant role in the community. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a visit to this monument offers a unique experience and a glimpse into the town’s rich heritage.

Here’s what you can expect when visiting the Possum Monument:

  • Unique Attraction: The Possum Monument is one of Florida’s most unique roadside memorials as stated on RoadTrippers. Its uniqueness lies in its tribute to the possum, an animal most wouldn’t consider monumental but holds historical significance for Wausau.
  • Historical Insight: Visiting the Possum Monument offers insight into the town’s past and the role the possum played, according to Atlas Obscura. You’ll learn about how the possum helped early settlers survive by providing food and fur.
  • Photogenic Spot: The monument is a favorite spot for roadside pictures, as noted by Explore Southern History. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
  • Cultural Significance: The monument signifies Wausau’s claim as the “Possum Capital” of the world and stands as a symbol of the town’s deep connection with this marsupial, as per Roadside America.
  • Close to Nature: Located near Reedy Creek Swamp, visitors also get a chance to enjoy Florida’s natural beauty, as suggested on AARP.

A Must-See Monument

The Possum Monument stands out as a delightful destination, capturing the essence of Wausau’s charm. It’s more than just a monument; it’s a celebration of history, culture, and local pride. Whether you’re a history buff, photography enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the quirky side of travel, this site is sure to pique your interest and offer memories that will last a lifetime. So, pack your camera, and get ready to experience one of Florida’s most enchanting roadside wonders!

Leave a Reply