First celebrated in 2002, the Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in Nederland, Colorado was born of a long and sordid history. The festival celebrates the life after death of one Bredo Morstoel. An avid outdoorsman, Grandpa Bredo (as he is affectionately known) lived a full and active life in Norway as a park director until he passed in 1989 at the age of 89. The family’s strong belief in cryogenic technology as a life extending technique goaded his daughter Aud Morstoel and grandson Trygve Bauge to pack him in ice and ship him to California’s Trans Time cryonics facility. Four years later, intent on stating their own such facility, they had good ol’ Grandpa shipped to them in Nederland for permanent storage in a TUFF SHED®. Kept in dry ice (rather than the traditional and accepted liquid nitrogen) he stayed there unbeknownst to the community. That was until 1994 Trygve was deported back to Norway (due to a few petty criminal offenses and an expired visa) leaving Aud to care for Grandpa Bredo on her own. Shortly thereafter, she received notice she was being evicted due to the lack of plumbing and electricity in the house. Fearing for the well being of her father, Aud contacted local news stations about her predicament.
It seems that here all would be lost, but not so. Due to the international publicity brought to the town by this quirky story (and the copious tourist dollars that came with it) Nederland city council passed an ordinance that allowed Grandpa Bredo to stay put. In 1995 Bo “Ice Man” Shaffer (then just Bo Shaffer) took up residence in Nederland to become Bredo Morstoel’s permanent care taker. Obviously a town that petitions to keep a frozen dead guy, well, frozen, is a bit eccentric. Enjoying their new found notoriety, Nederlanders got together and held the very first Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in March of 2002. Held every year since on the first weekend in March, it’s become a very big draw for this tiny municipality of about 1,400 people. And appropriately as March is still winter in Colorado, you can expect a very winter-centric festival.
One of the biggest draws is the Tuff Shed coffin races. Going up and down playground slides, through mud and snow banks curiously costumed contestants compete for fun prizes. There is also the Cryonics Parade where many of the same costumes appear along with some new ones, all themed around skeletons, zombies, and other gruesome images. Other popular activities include the polar bear plunge (a favorite of Trygve’s), tossing frozen turkeys and salmon, a Grandpa Bredo look-a-like contest and the Ice Blue Ball. Ice Blue is an adults only alcohol heavy extravaganza held the Friday night of the festival. Tickets to this can sell out fast so check in advance for availability. The next day those nursing a hangover can look forward to a delicious pancake breakfast, the hysterical parade, and ever changing contests (frozen t-shirt, Slurpee drinking, most snow packed into pants, etc.) that keep old and young thoroughly entertained. On top of that there are pub crawls, Dead Guy poetry readings, and perhaps the chance to see one of two documentaries made about Bredo Morstoel’s post-mortem adventures (Grandpa’s in the Tuff Shed and Grandpa’s Still in the Tuff Shed). Come home with some wacky souviners and a great story for your friends, Frozen Dead Guy Days are not to be missed.