Best Bets: Nederland's Frozen Dead Guy Days

March 2013

Most places have funerals and proper burials for their deceased, but Nederland's Frozen Dead Guy Days celebrates a more untraditional method of preserving one's body. 

Bredo Morstoel, the “Frozen Dead Guy”, was an outdoorsman who spent his life in the freezing hills near Oslo, Norway. When he died in 1989, he was packed in dry ice and shipped to a cryonics facility in the United States. Four years later, he was moved to his grandson’s care in Nederland. The grandson, a strong supporter of cryogenics, kept Morstoel's body on dry ice in a shed near his home until he was deported back to Norway when his visa expired. Then the town was left with one lonely dead guy and plenty of questions.

After some deliberation, the Nederland Chamber of Commerce figured it should make a profit off the unique attraction—so they created a festival in Morstoel’s honor and Frozen Dead Guy Days was born in 2002. In the beginning, only a handful of people showed up to follow the rumblings of this weird new event. Now, each year, upwards of 15,000 people descend upon Nederland (though the town's population is fewer than 1,500).

Event Director Amanda MacDonald—who bought the festival’s rights from the town two years agosays the weekend will be filled with contests (among them: a frozen T-shirt contest, a Rocky Mountain oyster eating contest, and a costume polar plunge) and live music from local acts Lesley Kernochan and Rocktin Grove

But the highlight of the weekend is Saturday's parade of hearses, when 30 hearses will cut through town to signal the beginning of the infamous coffin races. Teams of six people carry a friend inside a homemade coffin while maneuvering their way through an elaborate obstacle course—all in hopes of a $420 grand prize. The coffin races epitomize the eccentric cross between morbid and hilarious that permeates the weekend’s atmosphere. Nederland will be a lively spot for the next three days—thanks to one frozen dead guy. 

—Image courtesy of Frozen Dead Guy Days