ESTES PARK, Colo. — Even if you’ve never been, you’ve probably heard of Frozen Dead Guy Days, the festival in Nederland to honor the whacky, the macabre and a frozen dead guy.
Bredo Morstoel was a public official in Norway and died in 1989. His grandson, Trygve Bauge, had him cryogenically frozen and the two moved to Nederland.
“[He] wanted to preserve his grandfather for the future in case the technology ever comes around,” explained Nederland Mayor Billy Giblin.
Giblin said the town didn’t realize the body was being kept there until Bauge was deported.
“There were no official rules against it, nor were there rules for it,” said Giblin. “When they finally came around to making some rules, maybe not quite 10 years later, Grandpa Bredo was ‘grandfathered’ in.”
Denver7 took you along as the caretaker the family hired made sure Grandpa Bredo stays nice and cold. It’s an effort that costs the family thousands of dollars each year.
“Some folks involved with the local Chamber of Commerce decided, ‘Let’s have a party to celebrate it.’ So they put together the first Frozen Dead Guy Days. It was a small local event, about a thousand, 1,500 people. It was really for locals, it was a celebration and it was a lot of fun,” said Giblin.
Eventually Giblin said attendance surpassed 20,000 people, well over what the small town was designed to comfortably handle. Organizers looked elsewhere and came to an agreement with Estes Park to host the festival there from now on.
“They had to do what they had to do to protect their festival,” said Giblin who adds, there’s no hard feelings. “It is a void. It’ll be missed. There’s all kinds of opinions about it.”
The new owners of the festival also own another Colorado spooky staple, The Stanley Hotel.
“We’re honored to have it. We’re trying to honor all those same legacies and really show our gratitude to Nederland for their awesome tradition,” said Claire Molle, Communications Coordinator for Visit Estes Park.
The new event promises more music, bigger attractions and events and specials spread out around town.
“We try to keep the same tradition. So, the coffin races… and we’re doing brain freeze contests and the tradition of the music. You know, we have all the tributes to Grandpa Bredo,” said Molle.
One thing is missing: Grandpa Bredo, who is where he’s been all this time — frozen in Nederland.
“There are definitely efforts to bring Grandpa Bredo here,” said Molle, adding she couldn’t comment further on the decision making.
“I support Trygve, whatever he decides, but I for one would like to see Bredo stay here,” said Giblin, “[The Stanley has] some things to offer, a possible site and some more high technology to the cryonics. For us, there’s an emotional attachment and I don’t know what we have to offer.”
While the family decides, the Frozen Guy’s legacy will still be celebrated all weekend long in the festival’s new home.