Celebrating the Cool Guy
Frozen Dead Guy Days is alive and well in the town of Nederland, Colorado, and next weekend, March 8 to 10, the notorious event will celebrate its 12th year. Frozen Dead Guy Days has become a Nederland tradition honoring Bredo Morstoel’s frozen corpse, preserved in dry ice and housed in a shed located in the hills near Barker Dam.
Bredo Morstoel, a Norwegian citizen, was brought to the United States after his death in 1989 by Trygve Bauge, who hoped to preserve his grandfather’s body until new technology could be developed to bring him back to life. The body, cradled in dry ice for the journey, was stored in liquid nitrogen at the Trans Time Cryonics, Inc., facility in San Leandro, California, from 1990 to 1993, after which Morstoel’s body again was packed in dry ice and transported to Nederland.
There it was stored behind the unfinished house where Trygve Bauge’s elderly mother, Aud, resided, in a shed that became the world’s only do-it-yourself cryogenics life-extension facility. Trygve Bauge’s lack of a Green Card led to his eventual deportation back to Norway, but Bredo remained until Aud was evicted in violation of local ordinances, because of no electricity or plumbing in her home.
The Town expanded Section 7-34 of its Municipal Code, prohibiting the keeping of the whole or any part of the person, body or carcass of a human being, animal, or other biological species not alive, upon a property. The amendment provided a literal “grandfather clause” to allow an exception for Bredo Morstoel’s body to remain frozen.
Delta Tech, a local environmental company, was retained to maintain the dry ice cryo-preservation, and in 1995 a local Tuff Shed supplier stepped in to provide a new shed to shelter the body of Bredo. Bredo continues to be a resident alien of Nederland, and is internationally famous, having made the pages of National Geographic, National Enquirer and been the subject of various television broadcasts and specials.
In 2002, Nederland originated an annual celebration to honor its now-famous resident, marking the first full weekend of March each year as Frozen Dead Guy Days. The event has captured national attention, from CNN coverage to the New York Times, and has received the Governor’s Award as the Best Promotional Event in Colorado. Even a special flavor of ice cream, consisting of fruit-flavored blue ice cream mixed with crushed Oreo cookies and sour gummy worms, and named Frozen Dead Guy, was created for one past-year event by Glacier Ice Cream, in Boulder. Thousands of people attend the festivities each year.
This year’s theme, “The Good, the Bad, and the Frozen,” kicks off with an opening ceremony at the roundabout, and a dance, Grandpa’s Blue Ball, at the Black Forest Restaurant on Friday night, with Frozen Dead Guy lookalike and Snow Queen contests.
Saturday and Sunday mornings will start with early pancake breakfasts at the Community Center, and the weekend’s festivities follow, including a noon parade of hearses, and fun events such as coffin races, icy turkey bowling, a frozen T-shirt contest, an ice carving demonstration, a frozen salmon toss, brain freeze contests, snowy beach volleyball and a costume polar plunge to set teeth chattering for those courageous enough to break the ice and immerse themselves in frigid water.
Twenty-one bands will entertain, and beer is available conveniently in tents. Souvenir merchandise ranging from T-shirts, sweatshirts and various other commemorative items will be offered for sale, and free printed guides outlining the weekend activities will be readily available.
Tours will be conducted of the Tuff Shed where Grandpa remains in his frozen state. A documentary on Grandpa Bredo, called “Grandpa’s in the Tuff Shed (1998),” created by Robin and Kathy Beeck, will be shown locally for visitors.
Frozen Dead Guy Days is produced by Butterfly Effect Promotions, LLC. Festival Director Amanda MacDonald must enjoy challenges, as staging such a mammoth event is a formidable task. Aside from the up-front outlay of a huge amount of cash, she has to coordinate snow moving, parking, security, signage, fencing, safety, and myriad additional related concerns, and also deal with the rising costs involved in providing them.
Besides all these tasks, MacDonald acknowledges the importance of the goodwill and support put forth by loyal businesses, organizations and individuals who believe in the Frozen Dead Guy Days event. MacDonald expresses her gratitude for all their efforts that are so essential to staging the festival, saying, ”FDGD wants to again thank all the hard-working volunteers who really put themselves out there, and those that sponsor the event and make it possible.
Looming over all the intensive preparation is the dreaded and ever-present threat of a possible major snowstorm that could bring everything to a screeching halt and possibly cancel the event. Last year’s icy winds terminated the Saturday activities, impacting the financial success of 2012’s FDGD. Not only would weather-cancellation of the event be a catastrophe for MacDonald, it also would be an extreme blow to Nederland’s mountain-town economy.
Snowy months bring a major slowdown in sales for retail businesses. Many store owners, particularly those of restaurants and gift shops, depend on the huge influx of Frozen Dead Guy Days’ attendees and the flow of cash scattered in their wake, to sustain them through the lethargic winter season.
It is common for a business to take in three times a profitable summer weekend’s revenue just during the FDGD weekend, and often that makes the difference as to whether those businesses can survive. Additionally, The Town of Nederland receives thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue and fees, adding a financial cushion to its coffers, in addition to supporting funds for the fire, police, and public works departments.
Frozen Dead Guy Days is the singularly major event for monetary benefit to Nederland, eclipsing all others, and is all the more reason why locals should get behind the event and good-naturedly endure the short-term, admittedly inconvenient invasion of the slew of tourists who descend on the town, clogging traffic, parking in places they shouldn’t, and in general, disturbing the quiet mountain life that local residents have come to cherish.
To subtract Frozen Dead Guy Days from Nederland’s economic equation would have many negative ramifications. Some of the shops and restaurants that local residents have found fun and convenient to frequent all year might disappear, Town projects could be fewer and far between. Frozen Dead Guy Days has become a community mainstay, and a unique, fun aspect of Nederland’s identity.