Today’s travelogue takes us to “Frozen Dead Guy Days,” held each spring in the Colorado town of Nederland, a high mountain village west of Boulder, about two miles up where the breathin’ ain’t easy.
But let’s go back to the beginning, to Christmas, 1993. That’s when a Nederland guy named Trygve Bauge — Yes, Virginia, that’s his real Scandinavian name, pronounced YUM-PIN YIM-IN-EE — brought his grandfather’s frozen dead body to the tiny mountain town, which makes you say, “WHAT?”
Well, I’ll tell you. You see, the dead guy, Bredo Morstel, had earlier passed away in Norway following a successful career as the head of parks and recreation in Baerum County. He was born in Isfjorden, Romsdel, on Feb. 28, l900.
(I told you these Viking monikers were a whale of fun. Try to pronounce them yourself. It’s fun. Hint — they all rhyme with “Yiminy.”)
In Norway, there are many reasons why planting the dearly departed in the dead of winter is often frowned on, but I won’t go into that. Let me just say that when old Bredo died, his grandson had his body cryogenically frozen.
That term is pronounced KRO-JEN-IK-A-LEE, which alludes to lowering the temperature on a dead guy in hopes of finding a cure for whatever ailed him so that sometime in the future he can be thawed out and go back to his job in Baerum County where he belongs. And you thought science had gone about as far as it can go.
The upshot was, a year after Bredo died, his frozen body — I’m reluctant to call it a “stiff” — was shipped to a special laboratory in Oakland, Calif., called Trans Time Facility, where it was stowed away in a 90-below-zero icebox. Real cool.
Anyway, in l993, Bredo’s grandson — you remember, Trygve? Rhymes with Yiminy? — brought Bredo to Nederland where he has been kept under ice ever since. The cold facts are, once a week Trygve repacks Bredo in dry ice in a specially insulated Tuff Shed at a cost of about $750 a month.
What do the other residents of Nederland think? Well, the town council passed an ordinance outlawing any more frozen bodies in town, including animals, but it was too late for Bredo. He was grandfathered in. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.)
So word about the frozen dead guy spread, as word is prone to do if you drink at high elevations, until one night a group of jolly good fellows, according to the local paper, “The Mountain-Ear,” decided to promote the first annual “Frozen Dead Guy Days,” a shindig that’s grown over the years to include a wild bunch of exotic events.
Included is a play called “Grandpa’s Still in the Tuff Shed,” dances labeled “Dem Bones Dance” and “Grandpa’s Blue Ball,” and an Ice Queen contest. The fun goes on and on with tours of Grandpa’s Tuff Shed, extensive snow sculpting, coffin races, a Grandpa Look-Alike contest, and a parade with a pretty girl on stilts. The parade is very short but goes around the block twice.
The festival finally closes three days later with a breathtaking Polar Plunge at Chipeta Park’s fishing pond on the east side of town and a frozen T-shirt contest at the Pioneer Inn, followed by a Brain Freeze at Acoustic Café. I tell you, it’s one heckova three-day wing ding.
When you go there, don’t miss a dram of Dead Guy Ale at the Rogue Brewery or Grandpa’s Bar Crawl at several watering holes complete with music from groups with names like “High on the Hog” and “The Barn Burners.”
Incidentally, Madame Caddidlehopper — rhymes with Yiminy — will probably be crowned again as the “Bride of Grandpa,” and if anyone deserves the honor, she does. I mean, you don’t want to look her up.
All of which brings us to an advertisement in the Frozen Dead Guy Day’s program of events, which says: “(We are) coaching individuals and couples using a body-centered and intuitive approach towards conscious well-being on all levels, facilitating transformation, one moment at a time.”
And you thought Trygve was strange.
I’m going to Nederland next spring. I want to see if old Bredo is rich from good luck coins tossed on his Tuff Shed. By Yumpin Yiminy, I hope so.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.