“A large ‘possum occupied an exalted position on one of the wagons [in the parade celebrating President Taft’s 1909 visit to Charlotte], and the President laughed outright when he witnessed in the raw the meat that made his Georgia trip some months ago memorable.
“This was merely a forerunner, however, to the ‘Possum Club [float], which contained a number of ‘possums up in a huge limb and a number of hounds furiously barking after them. …. The Chief Executive continued to laugh as the float moved into the distance. It had impressed him mightily.”
— From a souvenir booklet commemorating Taft’s visit [souvenir postcard here]
In 1909, of course, controversy had not yet attached to the use of possums for entertainment purposes.