Take one dead Norwegian grandfather, a few too many long winters, and a repurposed Tuff® shed then add in a quirky community located in the first state to legalize the use of marijuana and you almost have to expect some kind of strange party. That party is “Frozen Dead Guy Days” in Nederland, Colorado. How did I not already have this on my bucket list?
A rather unremarkable Bredo Morstoel, a retired parks and rec director, died in 1989 in Norway where he was born and raised. But rather than bury him, his family packed him in dry ice, shipped him to a cryonics facility in California, and let him languish in liquid nitrogen for almost four years. Maybe he got lonely or there was a personality conflict with a neighbor, I don’t know, but he was moved to Colorado in 1993 to stay with his daughter Aud Morstoel and his grandson Trygve Bauge.
It’s always nice to live near your kids, except Grandpa was in a shed. Shed of the Dead? Then Grandson Trygve got deported because his visa expired, and Daughter Aud was tossed soon after, leaving an uncertain future for the favorite frozen family member. Enter the “Ice Man.”
In 1995, Bo Shaffer answered a want ad and for the past 23 years has worked with a team of volunteers to deliver 1,600 pounds of dry ice every month to pack Grandpa Bredo in his Tuff® shed sarcophagus, surrounded by foam padding, a tarp, and blankets so he stays at a steady -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Okay, that’s just weird.
But Nederland, Colorado – population about 1500 – digs weird. So Frozen Dead Guy Days became the hottest thing to hit town ever. Coffin racing, polar plunging, icy turkey bowling, frozen salmon tossing, live music, lots of beer, food, more beer, they live for this stuff. While you’re there, don’t miss a showing of the documentary “Grandpa’s in the Tuff Shed” or a performance of “Call Me Ned,” a musical (no, really. A musical!) that looks at what would happen if the Frozen Dead Guy wasn’t frozen anymore.
With festival-goers pouring in from all over, including international journalist, cryonicists, film-makers, investigators, and the occasional odd psychic, the festival has taken on a life of its own over the past 17 years. So much for that whole “Rest in Peace” idea, Grandpa! I highly recommend you mark your calendars for next March, pack your thermals and plan to be the life of the party at Frozen Dead Guy Days!