Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Frozen Dead Guy Days

For three years now, I've been dying (!) to check out that bizarre local festival known as "Frozen Dead Guy Days" in nearby Nederland (Pop: 1,337). At last, I got my chance last weekend when I grabbed Laura and we made the journey, 100 miles round-trip.

Here's the back-story on the festival:

In 1989, Norwegian citizen, Trygve Bauge, brought the corpse of his recently deceased grandfather, Bredo Morstøl, to the United States; nobody seems to know why. The body was preserved on dry ice for the trip, and stored in liquid nitrogen at the Trans Time cryonics facility from 1990 to 1993. Again, no one is on record as saying, "Trygve, WTF?"

In 1993, Bredo was returned to dry ice and transported to the town of Nederland, where Trygve and his mother, Aud, planned to create a cryonics facility of their own. When Trygve was deported from the United States for overstaying his visa, Aud continued keeping her father's body cryogenically frozen in a shack behind her unfinished house.

Aud was eventually evicted for living in a house with no electricity or plumbing, a violation of local ordinances. She told a local reporter about her father's frozen body and her fears of him thawing out. The reporter went to Nederland's city hall to let them know and the story exploded.

Nederland then added a broad new provision to Section 7-34 of its Municipal Code, "Keeping of bodies" outlawing the keeping of "the whole or any part of the person, body or carcass of a human being or animal or other biological species which is not alive upon any property."

However, because of the extensive publicity, they made an exception for Bredo, a "grandfather" clause. (Get it?) Trygve secured the services of Delta Tech, a local environmental company, to keep the cryonic facility running. Bo Shaffer, CEO of Delta Tech, is known as 'The Iceman' for transporting the dry ice necessary for cryonic preservation to the IC Institute for over 12 years. About 10 years ago, the local Tuff Shed supplier built a new shed to keep Grandpa in.

In honor of the town's most famous and beloved resident, Nederland began celebrating "Frozen Dead Guy Days" in 2002. Festivities include Coffin races, a slow-motion parade and "Frozen Dead Guy" lookalike contests. The documentary on Grandpa Bredo called "Grandpa's in the Tuff Shed" as well as the updated version, "Grandpa's Still in the Tuff Shed" is shown.

Other events include the "Polar Plunge" - for those brave enough to go swimming in the ice - and a dance, called "Grandpa's Blue Ball." The festival, which is also a celebration of winter's wind-down also includes pancake breakfasts, a artists showcase, snowshoe races and snow sculpture contests.

Glacier Ice Cream, headquartered in the nearby city of Boulder, mixes a special festival flavor called Frozen Dead Guy. It includes fruit-flavored blue ice cream mixed with crushed Oreo cookies and sour gummy worms. Laura and I were content to drink beer and take it all the goofy weirdness while trying to stay warm.

All in all, a very typical Colorado way to spend a day.

For more of my photos from the FDGD, go here.

5 comments:

fyrchk said...

I totally want to go to this now.

Howard said...

I'm with Tami!

ClizBiz said...

It's chilly but also deeply weird. Worth the effort.

Xa said...

HA HA HA! Glad you had a good time. I just about wet my pants laughing at the coffin races at FDGD a couple years ago. And the parade included a hearse with a flame thrower mounted on top.

Also --"Grandpa's in the Tuff Shed" is by the same folks that put on the Boulder Int'l Film Festival, another local tradition worth checking out.

Heidi's heart said...

So Burning Man! I love it!