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The Frozen Dead Guy Day Story
Grandpa Bredo is soon to be 109 years old. For years, he’s taken
up residence in a Tuff Shed in the hills above Nederland, Colorado,
where he remains very, very, very cold. More specifically, Grandpa is
frozen in a state of suspended animation, awaiting the big thaw. The
one that will bring him back to life.
There is a good story behind this, one that stretches from Norway to
California to Colorado, involving cryonics, deportation, psychics, celebrations,
and a dedicated Ice Man. It’s a tale that has captured international
attention and sparked a must-attend annual event called Frozen Dead
So how did all of this begin… and more importantly (particularly
for Grandpa Bredo), how long will it last?
Life After Death
Before Grandpa Bredo Morstoel died from a heart condition in 1989, he
enjoyed a comfortable life in Norway, where he was born and raised.
He loved painting, fishing, skiing, and hiking in the mountains of his
homeland. He was also the director of parks and recreation in Norway’s
Baerum County for more than 30 years.
After he died, things got really interesting. Instead of a burial, he
was packed in dry ice and prepared for international travel. First,
he was shipped to the Trans Time cryonics facility in Oakland, California,
where he was placed in liquid nitrogen for almost four years. Then,
he was moved to Colorado in 1993 to stay with his daughter Aud Morstoel
and his grandson Trygve Bauge, both strong advocates for cryonics who
hoped to start a facility of their own.
There he stayed for years under cold cover, in a shed, near his grandson’s
home, and about to be left on his own due to some pesky visa issues.
The Grandfather Clause
If you peruse the laws of Nederland, you’ll discover that it’s
illegal to store a frozen human or animal (or any body part thereof)
in your home. We have Grandpa Bredo to thank for this. When grandson
Trygve was deported in the mid-90s because of an expired visa, Bredo’s
daughter stepped in to take care of the household – including
keeping her father on ice.
Soon, Aud was evicted for living in a house with no electricity or plumbing
and was about to head back to Norway. This meant that the family’s
fledgling cryonics facility was destined to come to a halt. Worried
that her father would thaw out before his time, she spoke to a local
reporter, who spoke to the Nederland city council, who passed Section
7-34 of the municipal code regarding the "keeping of bodies."
Luckily for Bredo, he was grandfathered in and allowed to stay. Suddenly,
he was a worldwide media sensation. And he has been well cared for by
his family and community ever since.
The Iceman Cometh, Monthly
Bo Shaffer saw an intriguing want ad on the Internet in 1995 posted
by Trygve. He applied for the one-of-a-kind job, got it, and is now
known as the “Ice Man.” Every month, Shaffer and a team
of volunteers delivers 1,600 pounds of dry ice and packs it around Grandpa
Bredo in his sarcophagus, surrounded by foam padding, a tarp, and blankets.
As Cryonicist-in-Charge, Shaffer keeps Grandpa at a steady -60 degrees
Fahrenheit. He also gives tours to investigators, filmmakers, local
volunteers, and even psychics who have purported to communicate with
the dearly departed (by one account, Bredo is amused by the fuss but
Shaffer feels the weight of this responsibility, knowing how much has
been invested in keeping Grandpa in his cryonic state. Now frozen for
nearly 20 years, he is keeping the hope alive for his family and their
faith in cryonics, as well as spurring an annual festival in Nederland
that has grown into a full-fledged winter celebration.
It’s a Dead Man’s Party
For a town like Nederland that thrives on the colorful, the offbeat,
and the weird, Frozen Dead Guy Days is a fitting way to end the short
days of winter and head into the melting snows of spring. Trygve Bauge
calls it “Cryonics’ first Mardi Gras.”
The community experiences a new burst of life with the festival’s
creative contests, icy events (including the Polar Plunge jump into
frigid water), fundraisers, parades, and parties. People come from around
the world every March to experience the legacy of Grandpa Bredo –
even representatives of cryonics organizations who want share the science
behind this unique story.
Nowadays, when Grandpa Bredo celebrates, he doesn’t celebrate
alone. Every year, loyal souls go to the Tuff Shed on the hill to have
a drink with Colorado’s best-known corpse, marking the passage