Colorado’s most unique festival, Frozen Dead Guy Days, will take place from March 9-11 this year in Nederland, a mountain town about a 1.5-hour drive from Fort Collins. The bizarre but good-hearted celebration pays homage to the town’s most famous “resident”—the frozen preserved corpse of Bredo Morstoel, who died in his native Norway in 1989 and was transferred to Nederland in 1993.
Affectionately known as “Grandpa” by locals and fans, Morstoel’s already frozen (“cryonically preserved”) body was quietly brought to Nederland by his grandson. After local authorities learned of the body’s presence, they added a section to the municipal code to make it legal. Morstoel was grandfathered in, heh heh, via a clause titled “Keeping of Bodies” (Nederland Municipal Code Section 7-34 (16)), which allowed bodies of human beings to be “stored in a research facility specifically authorized by the Town.” That storage facility for Bredo Morstoel? A Tuff Shed on private property, kept abundantly supplied with dry ice by a dedicated caretaker.
“Dead since ’89” says the slogan beside Grandpa Bredo’s frosty face on the logo for Frozen Dead Guy Days, a strong clue to the irreverent attitude of the celebration. The annual festival, born in 2002, is mirthful rather than morbid, with all manner of themed activities dreamed up by the creative townspeople.
The fest includes a slew of peculiar and popular events: coffin races; a brain-freeze contest (how fast can you down a slushy?); a costumed polar plunge; the Newly Dead Game; a parade of hearses; frozen turkey bowling; a Royal Blue Ball featuring the crowning of a Cold-as-Ice Queen and a “best Grandpa Bredo lookalike”; and a contest to see who can don a frozen-stiff tee shirt the fastest. Festival-goers will find plenty of music, beer, food, and other more usual festival fare, too, as well as souvenirs featuring good ol’ Grandpa.
Morstoel, the star of the shindig, won’t be attending. He’s been kept frozen in dry ice in a shed near the town for 25 years, awaiting the advance of science to be reanimated.