The Frozen Dead Guy Days

Some families traditionally cremate their deceased, some bury them, and in Colorado we sometimes like to keep them chilling in a shed in the back. Literally.

About 15 miles down the road from my home in the foothills of the Rockies, there is a relatively small town called Nederland, Colorado. Around 1300 people inhabit the mountain town, yet if you drive by during the first week of March you are sure to find it packed. You may also accidentally run into a scheduled coffin race or ice turkey bowling contest. In 2012 Nederland celebrated the 10th annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival, inspired by and dedicated to “Grandpa Bredo,” more formally known as Bredo Morstoel.

Mr. Morstoel is originally from Norway and after passing away spent several years at a cryonics facility in California. Since 1993, several of his relatives, who reside in Nederland, have kept him cool in the “Tuff Shed,” a mini cryonics facility on their property in Nederland. Unfortunately his daughter Aud Morstoel and grandson Trygve Bauge experienced some trouble with visas and a near eviction because of electricity and running water requirements, but with the help of a local reporter Grandpa Bredo became an international sensation. There has been some minor continued legal trouble surrounding the housing of Mr. Morstoel in the Tuff shed and the festival that is dedicated to him, including a new Nederland law concerning the storing of bodies (which does not, however, apply to Mr. Morstoel since he was already being housed in Nederland at the time of the creation of the law) and a complaint filed by the family concerning festival naming rights.

Even so, the festival is still going strong and grows with each year. This past year’s events included tours to the Tuff Shed, cryogenics presentations, Snowy Beach volleyball, and a polar plunge among other events and musical performances.

Being enrolled in a class that focuses on the topic of death and burial, the Frozen Dead Guy Days immediately caught my attention the first time I saw a flyer. I’ve always been interested in cryonics, but have never had the chance to view a cryonics facility or listen to a lecture on it. At what point does the freezing or the work of the cryonics team begin, since pinpointing a time of death becomes more difficult with every medical advancement? How does brain death fit into this? If a patient is certified brain dead, can the team from the hired cryonics facility come in and begin their work on an otherwise living body? Would this really be any different than if the process of organ donation were to be started right after brain death?

Though cryonics and the housing of deceased relatives on private property raises a lot of legal, moral, and just plain interesting questions, what I do know is that next time I’m in town during that first week of March, I will be hopping on the bus to Nederland for the weekend.

To read the fully history of the Frozen Dead Guy Days and find more information on the festival, see http://frozendeadguydays.org/aboutfdgd.

Jana Muschinski

3 responses to “The Frozen Dead Guy Days

  1. Andrea Constance Risjord

    First of all this is cool and totally messed up. Th first thing I thought of was the Austin Powers movies where Dr. Evil and Austin Powers are both frozen and then unfrozen in the future. However, this is really interesting. I clicked on the link that you provided and I saw that Mr. Morstoel died from a heart condition of some sort and was then packed in dry ice and then later liquid nitrogen. It is kind of odd to me that you would expect to bring him back to life once he has thawed because it brings up a question that I hadn’t really thought about before. HOw long can you wait after the death of a person to resuscitate? Yes, there are issues of decomposition but if you can halt that process, like the Morstoels have is it still possible?

  2. Its a very interesting article. It reminds me of the ethical implications each state of this country has on treating the dead. Is the dead considered private property or not? Who’s private property is the dead considered apart of, the family, cemetery, etc? These are just some of the questions I was thinking about when reading the article. It was a very interesting tradition on how your town celebrate and respect the dead. This reminded me of my own culture where when a person dies there is 10 days of mourning in which men and women dress in bright and beautiful wardrobe to celebrate how rich and beautiful the life was. I always found it weird because in this country it is customary to dress in black. But this article reminded me that there are many strange but respectful ways the dead can be remembered.

  3. Update on what’s going on with continued problems with the Frozen Dead Guy situation: http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_21626826/grandson-nederlands-frozen-dead-guy-said-he-is

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