With Sunday afternoon all to myself, I decided to attend an unusual festival commemorating a man in Boulder County. He is not celebrated for how he lived or even for how he died. He is extraordinary because of his last wishes. You see, Bredo Morstol has been kept on ice in a Tuff Shed in Nederland, Colorado while being cryogenically preserved since 1989. He would like to be revived someday in the future. In 2001, the town began celebrating Frozen Dead Guy Days in his honor.
When Morstol died on November 6th, 1989 while residing in Norway, his body was flown to Los Angeles where it was suspended on liquid nitrogen. His grandson, Trygve Bauge had him shipped on ice to the tiny hippie mountain town in 1993. Trygve and his mother rigged up a frozen storage unit in a broken down shed behind their house. Liquid nitrogen is used in cryogenics to keep the body at around -320 degrees. Trygve’s homemade unit only uses ice and refrigerates at a mild -109. In the meantime, Tyrgve took in another willing participant, Al Campbell from Chicago, and froze him too.
When Trygve was deported to Norway 1994 followed by his mother, they panicked. Who would look after Grandpa Bredo? What if the power went out and they began to melt? All hell broke loose when the town of Nederland found out about the frozen dead guys. Officials wanted to pull the plug on the chest freezer. Not having any previous legislation on the books, they relented and “grandfathered” Morstol in. The other body was shipped to his family. Trygve hired a man to watch over the frozen grave where Grandpa Bredo rests in peace today. The town of Nederland replaced the shack with a donated Tuff Shed. After all the excitement died down, the town could see the humor in the situation and a festival was born.
This year the frozen frolics kick off was Friday night. It began with an opening ceremony that included the Skeleton Dancers followed by Grandpa’s Blue Ball. They held a contest for the Ice Queen and Grandpa look-alike. On Saturday, the wind that Boulder is quite famous for blew down tents and the organizers postponed many of the outdoor events. At noon on Sunday, I drove up Canyon Drive to Nederland.
When I arrived at Frozen Dead Guy Days, I had missed the Parade of Hearses, but had plenty of time to jump into the action. When I ran up to the crowds, the men were just finishing up the Frozen Wet T-shirt contest. While the winner pulled it over his head, others struggled to pry the solid sheet of iced fabric apart. One had bled all over his. Another still thrashed the now dirty and holey t-shirt on the ground. These were grown men, but I thought, “How hard could it be?” so I signed up for the women’s round. I think my frozen t-shirt had been stored behind a couple of steaks. It was as stiff as Grandpa Bredo! I tried whacking it on the ground and peeling it apart with my own frozen fingers. Breathing on it or putting it under my arm still wouldn’t melt the iced-T. One of the ladies must have had one stored with the milk because after about 2 minutes she slipped it on. There was a flesh wound in our group too! Talk about frozen to the bone. My fingertips got so cold they were numb to pain!
While others attended the viewing of the award-winning film, “Grandpa’s Still in the Tuff Shed,” I enjoyed the spectacle of several participants who tried their hand at Icy Turkey Bowling. Lofting a 25 pound frozen bird into the air and knocking down 10 pins was no easy feat, but it sure was fun to watch.
I missed the NewlyDead Game, the Frozen Salmon Toss and Snowy Beach Volleyball to watch the Coffin Race which was the weekend’s main attraction. The cordoned off course included several slippery slopes, a dead man’s curve and a required Chinese Fire Drill. The 6 man/woman teams carried one of their teammates in a coffin while racing through the snowy course. The curve proved to be too much for some and several coffins blew out and lost their corpse. I would love to put together a team next year, but only if I get to be the corpse!
The returning champs. These guys want it!
From there I moved on to the Brain Freeze Tent. A jazz band played while I signed up for the Brain Freeze competition. It sounded like fun and I had skipped lunch. The first one to eat 5 Mr. Freezes would win. I think there must have been a technique that I wasn’t aware of. While eating my third icy treat, my frontal lobe throbbed in pain and two of the young women finished their fifth!
My teeth chattered as I hustled back to my car. A bitter and blustery wind seemed to roll down Eldora Ski Resort which now seemed to loom above the quaint town. It felt as if Grandpa Bredo’s cold fingers ran up my spine. I shook as I drove back down Canyon Drive to Boulder while the outdoor temperature on my car’s gauge jumped up to 60 degrees. Chilled to the bone, I kept the thermostat on Max Hot all the way home. I had officially become a Frozen Dead Guy!
Grandpa Bredo’s Tuff Shed photo from Wikipedia, the rest by Susie Lindau
How do you like to spend your free time?
Do you have an unusual festival in your area?