Weekend at Bredo’s

Photo: Matt Beldyk/Flickr A decorated hearse in the Frozen Dead Guy Days parade of hearses. Other events include coffin races, polar plunge, frozen salmon toss, and a "frozen dead guy" lookalike contest.

Photo: Matt Beldyk/Flickr A decorated hearse in the Frozen Dead Guy Days parade of hearses. Other events include coffin races, polar plunge, frozen salmon toss, and a “frozen dead guy” lookalike contest.

A frozen Norwegian grandpa inspires the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in Nederland, CO

Denise Leland
Norwegian American Weekly

In 1989, Norwegian Bredo Morstoel (or Morstøl) died of heart conditions. He then traveled to the United States with his grandson, Trygve Bauge. But he was not in a coffin or urn as most of the deceased travel. He was frozen on dry ice.

Some twenty years later, the town of Nederland, Colorado holds a weekend festival and celebration in March inspired by their famous chilly resident. But how did “Grandpa Bredo” become such a local spectacle?

Trygve and his mother Aud (Bredo’s daughter) had big plans to build their own cryonics facility in Nederland. After having Bredo frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen at a nearby cryonics facility for some time, the mother-son pair decided to finally move Grandpa to their home in 1993. Of course what better place to store your dead grandfather then frozen in the shed behind your house.

Soon after, this family’s inconspicuous life began to hit a rough patch. Trygve was deported back to Norway for overstaying his visa. Mother Aud held down the home in Nederland, Grandpa still chilling in the backyard. That is, until she got evicted for violating local ordinances by living without electricity or plumbing in the house.

Fearing that Grandpa would begin to thaw out in the cryonics shed without her care, Aud alerted authorities of Bredo’s presence. And this is when this “frozen dead guy” hit the news.

The local fascination with this strange case and frozen Grandpa ignited and in 2002 it grew into an organized celebration known as Frozen Dead Guy Days. This unique weekend-long festival encompasses music, community, and anything macabre and icy. Trygve describes it as “Cryonics’ first Mardi Gras.”

Typical events include coffin races, a “Frozen Dead Guy” lookalike contest, costumed polar plunge, parade of hearses, a frozen salmon toss, and the hit spectacle, a tour of Grandpa Bredo in his shed. There are even two documentaries made about the story: Grandpa’s in the Tuff Shed and Grandpa’s Still in the Tuff Shed. The 2014 festival welcomes a new event entitled the Frozen Dead Poets Society which I am guessing is exactly as it sounds: people reading original poems about Grandpa. Accompanying these darkly humored events is live music from two different stages, providing the soundtrack for a lively (and deadly) weekend.

While there have been a few little bumps in the road, the festival endures and gears up for another great year. In 2005 Aud and Trygve suspended the tours of Grandpa’s shed due to frustration with the festival. But they seemed to lighten up or have a change of heart and in 2010 the tours resumed. The family has also filed complaints against Nederland in the past, based on money and naming rights, but the festival still rages on.

This year Grandpa Bredo would be 109 years old and 25 years frozen, with no end in sight.

This offbeat festival will take place the weekend of March 7, 8 & 9 this year, so mark your calendars for what is sure to be a one-of-a-kind experience of fun…and death.

Visit frozendeadguydays.org for more information and festival details.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 28, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.