Alpharetta’s Christmas nutcracker program cracks on with custom figures

These are the nutcrackers who help welcome the holiday season in Alpharetta. (Courtesy the Alpharetta Chamber of Commerce)
These are the nutcrackers who help welcome the holiday season in Alpharetta. (Courtesy the Alpharetta Chamber of Commerce)

Alpharetta will again welcome the yuletide season with friendly wooden figures.

The city is preparing to display 13 human-sized custom nutcrackers downtown for the “Alpharetta’s Season of Celebration” tree-lighting event at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6. The Alpharetta Chamber of Commerce manages the nutcrackers. The figures, some of which stand 5.5 feet, are sponsored by businesses and will include two from the city honoring police and firefighters.

There are two new nutcrackers this year, said the Chamber’s interim CEO Keith Bowermaster, costing the law firms that sponsored them $4,800 each. The price covers cost and shipping, and “a small portion” goes to the Chamber’s general fund, he said.

“These add very spirited joy and celebration for the holidays,” Bowermaster said. ” … They give opportunities for businesses in the opportunity to be a part of it.”

If Alpharetta’s nutcrackers should come to life, as they do in the holiday tale, they’ll have Midwestern manners because they were made in Steubenville, Ohio, where an entire village of giant nutcrackers were first made to build civic pride. The nutcrackers are made by Nelson Fine Art and Gifts, a family-owned manufacturing company in Steubenville, which specializes in custom designs.

“Their downtown was not doing well, so they devised this program of building nutcrackers and getting people to come downtown and it worked superbly,” said Alpharetta parks and recreation director Morgan Rodgers.

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This all started last year in Alpharetta after Mayor Pro-Tem Donald Mitchell saw the nutcrackers and reached out to their manufacturer. Rodgers said Alpharetta is the only place in Georgia with Steubenville nutcrackers.

Though they don’t actually crack nuts, but Rodgers said the nutcracker tradition will crack on.

“As long as you stay in business, the nutcracker will be put up for a month in December,” he said.

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This story was based on a tip from Janet Rodgers, a community contributor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rodgers lives in Alpharetta and is president and CEO of the Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau. Wouldn't you like to join Rodgers in helping us cover your community? You can share your expertise; have your say – and be heard; and learn more about our organization. Most importantly, you'll be helping us support our journalistic mission. If you're interested in becoming part of our expanded neighborhoods coverage, please contact Managing Editor Mark A. Waligore at

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