A Love for Nutcrackers Bonds Generations


Given her passion for the bearded fellows, the 97-year-old Arlene Wagner once again made the long flight. This time she did not arrive alone to the Ezgebirge area.

NEUHAUSEN – By Saturday evening, it was obvious how excited Uwe Löschner had become. He is the head of the Nutcracker Museum in Neuhausen. He was awaiting his now 97-year-old friend Arlene Wagner, who is the curator of the Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, which is in the US, State of Washington. Thirty years ago, the two met for the first time at a toy convention in Nürnberg, Germany, and since then they have been very good friends. That first gathering had led to a close relationship with the entire Löschner Family. Almost annually, and despite her advanced age, the very fit lady makes the trip to the Erzgebirge to take a look around. Among other things she also visits craftsmen in the city of Seiffen. The articles of the Erzgebirge have always had a special meaning for her

Arlene Wagner founded a nutcracker museum in 1995 in the small town of Leavenworth, a museum which was later endorsed into a non-profit foundation. She explains that the village, with its approximate 2000 inhabitants, had evolved into a Bavarian theme and attracts very many tourists. “Exactly 9103 of the bearded nutcracker fellows are at home in our collection, and now we have been entered into the Guinness-Book of records,” the 97-year-old explains. “Around 34,000 yearly visitors come to see our displays, including travelers from as far away as New Zealand and Japan.” Arlene has written a total of 8 books about Nutcrackers. Uwe Löschner displays two large photo books in his museum in Neuhausen.

This time the 47-year-old Michelle McMullen arrived to the Erzgebirge with Arlene Wagner. This is her first trip to Germany. Arlene Wagner introduced her as her assistant. “She will one day become my successor.   I am sure she will do wonderful work,” the 97year old former dance instructor explains.

Amongst her relatives and friends McMullen is already known as the ‘Nutcracker Lady II’. Now she wanted to get her own first impression at the cradle of the bearded fellows. “I am mesmerized by the workshops here at the Erzgebirge. For example, it was incredible to see how the Fuchtner Company produced the nutcrackers, or how the little Spanbäumchen (Woodchip trees) are created,” explains the 47-year-old, who stepped into Arlene Wagner’s footsteps two years ago. She wants to come back very soon, and after all her “boss” needs to be with her again, said McMullen.

Arlene Wagner explained that she would like to live to the ripe age of 102 years, as her brother had. And how will she do it? No alcohol all her life, no elevators, lots of walking and following a healthy diet, the 97year old recommends. As always, on her trip home her luggage held a lot of nutcrackers; and the same went for the bags of her travel companion.

Rumor has it, that McMullen’s children and grandchildren are also known to be infected with the “Nutcracker Virus”.

The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is located at 735 Front Street, Leavenworth, WA. Or you can find them online at www.nutcrackermuseum.com

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