Party with a frozen dead guy in the Rockies
A costumed attendee takes part in the polar pool. (Barbara Lawlor, courtesy of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce)
When it comes to eccentric festivals, Frozen Dead Guy Days may take the cake.
Celebrated each March in the mountain town of Nederland, Colorado (15 miles west of Boulder), this weekend-long party all started with a cryogenically frozen body and a bizarre set of circumstances to match.
The 1,400-person town of Nederland gained worldwide notoriety in 1994 when local authorities discovered the body of Norwegian Bredo Morstoel packed in a steel coffin filled with dry ice. Morsteol's daughter and grandson had him frozen after his death in Norway in 1989 and shipped the body to an LA-based cryogenic facility, before moving it to Nederland in 1993 in hopes of starting their own cryonic facility. That venture never panned out and the Morsteol family returned to Norway. The body, however, remains ensconced in dry ice (replenished each month by a hired local now known as Bo the Iceman) in a shed donated by local businesses, while the family financially maintains the body and its upkeep from afar.
Rather than hide their skeleton in the closet, the city of Nederland chose to introduce the world to "Grandpa Bredo" (as he is affectionately known) with their midwinter festival, this year held March 4 through 6. "The whole story was always a stigma, until 2002 when we started the event," said Teresa Warren, one of the festival founders. "We figured we might as well capitalize on the fact that everyone knows us for it."
At this year's 10th anniversary celebration, you can take a tour of the shed where Bredo rests, compete in the coffin race with six pallbearer friends through an obstacle course, plunge into the polar pool and try a round of Twicester (frozen Twister). Tamer activities include musical acts, a pancake breakfast and beer tents with local brews. About 15,000 people attended Frozen Dead Guy Days last year.
Since some come dressed to the festival in costumes, Warren said "it is like a second Halloween!" Not a bad descriptor for the morbidly mirthful celebration.