Sentries Of The Season

Getting a jump on the holiday season while it’s still unseasonably hot, unique Bosque Museum fundraiser builds an army in their Nutcracker Village for Christmas

CLIFTON – It’s been hot, very hot in the attic of the Bosque Museum Annex. A family of special Nutcrackers, patiently await their seasonal outing. And they are hoping to welcome new members to their ranks.

The Bosque Museum in Clifton started their Nutcracker Village in 2022 as a unique fundraiser and they are continuing building their army of six-foot seasonal sentries this year. The prototype nutcracker Stetson, is of course a cowboy, and he was joined by an “Annie Oakley” cowgirl, a pink Princess, two classic museum guards, a bear-rug clad Viking, a lace-collared lawyer, Ol’ Saint Nick, a sleepy pyjama-clad gentleman, a bonneted and bespectacled grandmother, a nurse, a Cub baseball player, a Texas A&M football player, a serious looking postmaster and a ladle-wielding cook.

For just $500, supporters can sponsor a new Nutcracker, decorated in their own fun design to add to this motley crew. Or the museum can suggest a design for them. To split the cost, the museum suggests to team up as a neighborhood, a family or as a business to sponsor their own special Nutcracker. To guarantee your Nutcracker's arrival for the 2023 season, paperwork needs to be submitted by Sept. 30. For more information, the forms, and a link for payment on the museum website:, or call the Bosque Museum at 254-675-3845.

Back in her hometown Steubenville OH, Bosque Museum docent Joanne Blossom saw the success of a growing Nutcracker village, There Jerry Barilla, who had the idea, and Mark Nelson, whose team of artists brought it to life, created a seasonal attraction in aid of their small town with a dwindling economy. Now every year the Steubenville Nutcrackers draw thousands of tourists to town to get into the spirit of the Christmas season. Blossom initiated the idea to transport the successful concept for a fun and unique fundraiser for the museum.

“I just thought it was a cute idea and something to bring people to the museum, and it didn’t compete with anything else,” Blossom said. “We eventually hope to have so many, to spread around town.”

Blossom hopes the growing Nutcracker family of will become an integral part of the museum’s Christmas season, but also the town. Drawing in visitors to view the fun exhibit at the museum pavilion and inside offering endless “Hallmark” photo opportunities, will also benefit local businesses.

“What we had in common besides being from Steubenville, was wanting to do something for the town we lived in,” Blossom said. “I hope some school or church classes tour them and it would be great if a class or a school raised money to sponsor one of their own nutcrackers.”

Whereas Steubenville already has 200 nutcrackers, the Bosque Museum hopes to grow their present 14 with about that same number this year, and more in the years to come. An additional seven are already in different stages of construction. Local businesses like Ace Hardware and Parker Lumber donated some of the materials, like PVC tubes for the bodies, and wood for the bases. Museum docents constructed the nutcrackers and painted the base coats. Local artist Meghan Major proceeded to paint on the face, clothing and additional features.

But what ties Nutcrackers into the Christmas season? According to German folklore, nutcrackers – Nussknacker – were given as keepsakes to bring luck to the family and protect the home. It is said that they represent strength and power and watch over the family keeping evil spirits and danger away. Maybe that is why many nutcrackers resemble soldiers in vintage uniforms.

Then in 1892, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's famous ballet, The Nutcracker, debuted. Because the ballet is set on Christmas Eve, the nutcrackers quickly became associated with holiday decor. And the ballet became a favorite holiday tradition during the mid-20th century.

Adapted from Prussian author E.T.A. Hoffman’s 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, features Clara who receives a nutcracker as a Christmas gift. On Christmas Eve, the nutcracker comes to life, wages a battle against the evil Mouse King, turns into a Prince taking her to the enchanted Land of Snow and Land of Sweets. In the end, as Clara awakens, the audience realizes t’was but a dream, and she finds herself by her Christmas tree with her beloved, protective nutcracker.

While nutcrackers have been a staple for centuries, there's been a resurgence of popularity over the last years. According to Google Trends, searches for nutcrackers have increased by more than 60 percent in the last five years. They credit this increased interest to the recent resurgence of vintage/nostalgic decor trends—items like nutcrackers and ceramic trees.

So hop onto the nutcracker boom with your own unique, life-size nutcracker at the museum. There will be a nutcracker in the parade this year enticing people to the “Museum by Candlelight” evening and the opening of the museum’s “A Child’s Christmas” exhibit, buy some Mistletoe and gifts at the wonderful museum gift shop. Take the opportunity to view the growing nutcracker family until New Years Day. After the holiday season, the museum packs up their village of characters until the next year – the start of a wonderful seasonal tradition.


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