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Frozen Dead Guy Days


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the now defunct Naked Pumpkin Run in Boulder, Colorado, the setting of my novel, Profile. Something about the quirky nature of that event made me think of another even quirkier event.

It’s not mentioned in Profile. It doesn’t even take place in Boulder.

Get over it.

It happens in Nederland, Colorado, about a half hour drive west of Boulder, up into the mountains. It’s called Frozen Dead Guy Days. The festival celebrates a corpse kept frozen in a Tuff Shed for the last twenty-five years. Because, well, it’s Nederland, Colorado.

It all makes perfect sense once you hear the story. (Yeah, right.)

The frozen dead guy is Norwegian Bredo Morstøl, brought to America after his death by his grandson, Trygve Bauge in 1989. He made the trip to America packed in dry ice, but was then stored in liquid nitrogen in a cryonics facility in California.

In 1993, Trygve, being quite the entrepreneur, packed his grandfather in dry ice again and brought him to Colorado with the hopes of starting his own cryonics business. Bredo was stored in a shack behind the unfinished house of his daughter, Aud, Trygve’s mother. Trygve, however, wasn’t able to see his dream come to fruition as he overstayed his visa and was deported back to Norway.

His dream, and Bredo’s future life, was now in Aud’s hands.

Aud’s house remained unfinished, and as a result, she was evicted for being in violation of local ordinances prohibiting residents from living in houses without plumbing or electricity. Yes, it was that unfinished!

Fearful of what that would mean for her father’s frozen corpse, Aud pleaded her case to a local reporter, who then took it up with city hall. One might think that it would be against the law to keep “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.” But since there actually was no law on the books to that effect, they created one.

However, because of all the publicity that resulted around this case, they made an exception for Bredo. You might call it a grandfather clause.

In 1995, a local Tuff Shed supplier teamed up with a local radio station and built Bredo a new final resting place, and a caretaker was contracted to keep him packed in dry ice. And being Nederland, Colorado, an annual festival has been celebrated in Bredo’s honor since 2002.

Observed on the first full weekend in March, Frozen Dead Guy Days includes tours of the Tuff Shed where Bredo’s body is still kept at -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Festivities also include a polar plunge, which usually necessitates breaking through the ice to get to the water, a dance, called “Grandpa’s Blue Ball,” coffin races, a slow-motion parade, and a Frozen Dead Guy lookalike contest.

They don’t call us Colorful Colorado for nuthin’.