Amanda gets good weather
Barbara Lawlor Nederland
The Pink Socks did it again! Five Frozen Dead Guy Coffin Race wins in a row. The defending champions came to Nederland on Saturday, carrying their humble but sturdy coffin and bringing a lot of good cheer and optimism. If they did it four times, they could do it again. And they did: with ease. No one even came close.
The 13th Annual Frozen Dead Guy Festival was blessed, at last, with perfect weather. The snow came on Friday, smothering the Nederland area with about eight inches of gorgeous, sparkling snow, creating a winter post card of our recently dirty snow-filled town. As up to 15,000 people filled every empty space with their vehicles, the businesses and sidewalks and streets became parking lots for pedestrian traffic jams. Event director Amanda MacDonald finally got a much deserved weather break after a couple years of wind devastation.
But everyone loved the sunshine, the no wind, the warm air and the crazy fun events that kept them moving from venue to venue. Music from band tents on either side of town kept the atmosphere upbeat and visitors said there was nowhere on earth they would rather be for the day.
It all began at 7 p.m. at the roundabout, under the large FDGD sculpture. As the sun set, Nederland Mayor Joe Gierlach welcomed the small crowd lined up on the sidewalk and got them to cheer for the opening of the festival. FDGD 2014 was officially underway.
This year the Blue Ball was held at the Reanimate Yourself Beer Tent in Chipeta Park, where Avery Brewing, Specialty Corpse Reviver & Grandpa’s Spirit drinks added to the energy while Gipsy Moon, Caribou Mountain Collective and DeadPhish Orchestra hit all the right notes.
The space was large enough to handle the bigger-than-ever crowd that danced and kicked around the ubiquitous blue balls that randomly bounced through the tent.
A New Yorker with a blue frozen mohawk was voted the Ice Queen and Evan Meyers of Nederland was named the Grandpa Bredo Look-a-Like. He wore a modest beard and typical Norwegian clothing, free of ghastliness.
The frivolities lasted ’til the wee small hours of the morning.
When the town awoke, it was to a miraculously perfect day for the outdoor events. The parade began at noon and the coffin race teams raised their corpses high as they marched up First Street.
By this time, the traffic became constant as skiers headed to Eldora for a champagne day and revelers flocked into town looking for a place to park. Three officers had their hands full as they directed traffic, and FDGD security were swamped making sure people didn’t walk through town with open containers of alcoholic drinks or joints.
As the masses moved from downtown to Chipeta Park, the Nederland Fire Protection District firefighters and ice team prepared the hole in the kid’s fishing pond, which called for a longer than usual chain saw blade.
The line of polar plungers was at least 40 divers long and they came in a variety of costumes and plunging styles. The hands-down highlight of the event were the celebrity Japanese actors Tetsudo Degawa and Maynko Kawakita, who were part of the Sekai No Hah Teh Mah Deh Itte Q, which translates to “Quest to the End of the Earth,” a popular series about
Degawa stunned the crowd as he stood next to the polar hole in the ice with a four foot in diameter bright yellow balloon above his head and then slowly he disappeared into it. When he was no longer visible, the balloon bounced to the water’s edge and toppled into the icy water, with
Degawa’s head submerged under water. The NFPD team helped him out by bursting his balloon. At which point, the Japanese actor let loose with a harangue, maybe of expletives, expressing his feelings about everything. He ended the polar plunge leaving a hard act to follow.
And then the main event. Teams from all over the state showed up in a quest to take down the Pink Socks, four-time champions of the event. Team members, all young professionals from Boulder, include: Joel Weber, Brian Fancisco, Tom Yersak, Jim Cezo, Lewis Cox and Mark Schutte with Katie Alexander as the corpse.
The coffin was made with materials obtained from a dumpster. “It is fully green,” they boasted. “Gotta think of Mother Earth when you enter a coffin race.”
Katie Alexander said she doesn’t get hurt but she learned at the beginning to cover up the screws that stuck into her body as she rolled around over the obstacle course. “I screamed “Go” at them. If I didn’t, they would forget to move.”
The Pink Socks bested the Adams Family, American Justice, Amendment 64 (which received a huge ovation from the crowd), Frozen Justice and other assorted and sundry costumed teams.
The Frozen T-Shirt contest was held twice over the weekend and attracted a crowd on First Street in front of the Pioneer Inn. Strong men and lithe women pulled and pushed and stomped on their t-shirts trying to thaw them. The winner was David Day who said he just kept at it and was the first to pull the shirt over his head, stick his arms through and tuck it in.
Unfortunately our Japanese contender never got beyond stomping on the shirt and growling as the crowd chanted, “You can do it.”
The female winner was Abby Vestil from Lawrence, Kansas who was visiting her parent’s cabin in Nederland and said she is a very competitive person so, even though she had stitches in her hand, and her fingers were numb, she managed to wrestle into the shirt.
The Rocky Mountain Oyster Eating Contest at the First Street Puband Grill brought in a standing room only crowd who had their favorites to scream at. But it was Josh, four time winner of the contest, a kick boxer from Denver, who out-ate them all. He came in second the first round and says he had to really focus to win the championship and the $100. Expect him back next year. Ariel from Oregon was the female winner.
One of the more popular events on the fringe of town is the Sundance Cafe Brunch and Frozen Salmon Tossing Contest. Two 20-pound frozen fish are tossed as far as possible by folks who shriek, “Ewww, it’s so slippery.” The fish remained intact until 1:55 before it fell apart, which in itself is a record.
Seventy-five salmon throwers demonstrated their technique. Chip Knee came up with a group of people who cheered him on to throw 51 feet, 8 inches. Chip and the group took the $100 prize and wined and dined themselves.
Local Rollinsville man Chris Dettman came in second, again, losing by only four inches. In third place was Clinton Gale who beat his brother Justin after tying him for third last year.
The female champ was Mary Radke of Denver who threw her fish 30 feet, six inches. She is a former Sundance employee and says she learned the inside scoop on how to throw a salmon. You need to throw it like a discus, she says. Either by the gills or the tail and then spin and release it with a strong heave.
All day Sunday, the bands played on. The vendors, very happy with their weekend business, kept serving buckets of fries, burritos, funnel cakes, huge pizza slices, barbecue and much much beer.
It was probably the biggest and best festival ever in 13 years and people from far and wide smiled for two days, being silly and happy and very much alive.