On the way up to Eldora, the small mountain town of Nederland sits quiet and peaceful. One would never know it’s home to one of the biggest winter festivals of the year. All in honor of no other than a frozen dead guy.
After a two-year hiatus, Nederland’s famous “Frozen Dead Guy Days” is back. Celebrated in late winter, the town hosts one of the largest winter festivals of the year in honor of “Grandpa,” a frozen dead guy from Norway. The festival brings a buzz to the quiet mountain town. In 2019, 25,000 people made their way to the small town outside of Boulder to celebrate its frozen resident.
Bredo Morstoel, born in Norway in 1900 is now located in the small town of Nederland, on ice, in a shed. After suffering a heart attack while Nordic skiing at his home in Norway, his grandson, Trygve Bauge, opted out of a funeral and instead, helped his grandpa potentially live an immortal life.
Bauge, a local free spirit from the Boulder area, was known to be a little out there. After hearing of his grandpa’s death he immediately had him frozen and transported over to the US. After studying cryogenics, the science of preserving a body for resuscitation after death, Bauge set to work studying the science to bring his grandpa back to life. Cryogenics consists of freezing the body immediately after death in order to prevent decay by storing the body in -320ºF temps. Since “Grandpa Bredo” was a budget cryogenic experiment his body was kept at a toasty -109ºF.
In 1993 Bauge was joined by his mother Aud in Nederland. The pair set to work building an all-weather, disaster-proof concrete house. While they worked to finish the house, Grandpa Bredo was stored in a garden shed out back.
By now Bauge’s visa had expired. After breaking the world record for a polar ice plunge drawing attention to himself, he was soon found and deported back to Norway in 1994. This left his mother Aud in charge of finishing their house and maintaining Grandpa’s body. Aud was eventually evicted from their house for failing to meet certain city codes like the lack of running water and electricity. It was then that the town discovered she had a frozen dead guy in her garden shed.
An investigation immediately took place, the shed was opened up and both police and reporters swarmed the small mountain town. The town called an emergency meeting and passed a local ordinance that further prohibited storing frozen bodies on private property. Though an ocean away Bauge continued to fight for his grandfather’s perspective immortality as he taught the science of cryogenics to the town’s fathers. To the town’s dismay, after deliberations, Grandpa Bredo was “grandfathered” in and allowed to stay in the shed.
Since then the town of Nederland eventually caved in and began to embrace “Grandpa” as a part of their community. Beginning in 2002 the town began to celebrate “Frozen Dead Guy Days” a three-day festival all centered around the frozen dead guy in the shed at the top of the hill.
This year’s festival will take place March 18-20th and will consist of a variety of parades, concerts, and activities for the town and visitors to take part in. A parade of hearses will line the streets reining in the mood at the beginning of the weekend. The most popular event is the coffin races. Teams of pallbearers race down a course with a “loaded casket” attempting to be the first down. Festival-goers can also take part in a polar plunge, wet T-shirt contest, ice turkey bowling, and even tour the frozen dead guy’s shed! All the while a variety of bands play concerts the entire weekend, bringing a “breath of life” into the quiet town of Nederland.
A portion of the proceeds from the festival actually does go towards maintaining Grandpa in his shed. He is still suspended today and is maintained by Bo “The Iceman” Shaffer who brings a three-quarter-ton brick of dry ice up to Grandpa every two months. Only recently Grandpa’s dilapidated shed was replaced, thanks to a donation from Tuff Shed and Denver Fox Radio Station.
While Bauge originally took on his grandpa on his own he has now invested an entire town in maintaining his frozen body. Bredo Morstoel is no longer just Bauge’s grandpa, he is Nederland’s Grandpa. This year marks the official 20th anniversary of the town celebrating its most unique resident: a frozen dead guy.