Fast forward to the new millennia. The city of Wroclaw had a gnome statue erected to honor the legacy of the Orange Alternative. The statue proved so popular that in 2005 the city commissioned a local artist to create more gnomes. Enterprising local businesses quickly got in on it and contracted other artists to produce even more. Very quickly gnome statues proliferated around the city and now number more than 400. They have proven to be quite a tourist draw which has boosted the town’s economy.
My final tale about these creatures concerns the quaint fad of taking gnome statues on trips and posing them in front of iconic scenes like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. The concept of the traveling gnome started fifty years ago when an Australian photographed his own garden gnomes, Harry and Charlie, while he was traveling around Antarctica. It reminds me of the Flat Stanley I took with me on vacation for my great-nephew. Ideas often spark other ideas. The vacation gnome devolved into the not so quaint practice of swiping a gnome statue, taking it on a trip, and returning it with a photo album of his vacation. The earliest prank involving a traveling gnome also comes from the Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald reported in 1986 that a suburban gnome-owner was distressed when she discovered her gnome had been stolen. A note was found in its place: 'Dear Mum, couldn't stand the solitude any longer. Gone off to see the world. Don't be worried, I'll be back soon. Love Bilbo xxx.”