Prior to his death, Bredo Morstoel was unknown to all but two of the good people of Nederland, Colorado. In fact, he’d never set foot in the town, but lived his entire 89 years in his native Norway, probably never once dreaming that the bizarre events precipitated by his death would ignite controversy and plant the seeds for a wild celebration thousands of miles from his home.
When Morstoel passed away in 1989, his grandson Trygve Bauge arranged to have the body shipped to Trans Time, a San Francisco-based cryonics facility where Morestoel was preserved while Trygve built his own cryonics chamber in Nederland where he lived with his mother, Aud. Trygve and Aud shared the belief, central to cryonics, that science would one day find a cure for the body’s frailties, and that forward-thinking individuals would have their earthly remains preserved to await the day they could be reanimated.
Four years later, Trygve had constructed a shed designed to withstand all manner of natural and man-made disasters. He had his grandfather’s body shipped to its new home where he kept it packed in a steady supply of dry ice. Despite its exceedingly low-tech methods of preservation, the rudimentary facility later attracted another client, a Chicago man taken by liver failure.
Plans to upgrade the fledgling cryonics facility came to an abrupt halt in the mid-90s when Trygve, who had been living in the United States without a visa, was deported, leaving the frozen bodies in the hands of his mother. After a flurry of town meetings and legislative action that resulted in Aud’s eviction and the Chicago man being returned to his loved ones, it was decided that Morestoel’s body could remain in his shed under the care of the so-called “Ice Man,” Bo Shaffer, whom Trygve hired as Morestoel’s caretaker. Once a month, Shaffer packed Morestoel’s body with 1,600 pounds of dry ice, keeping him preserved at a constant temperature of -60 degrees Fahrenheit (though professional cryonics facilities put the ideal temperature at -321 degrees, according to Vice’s Sam McPheeters). After the original shed was damaged by heavy winds in 1995, Shaffer led the call to build a new, stronger home for his frozen charge.
The commercial potential of the strange saga of Grandpa Bredo (as he’s now affectionately known in Nederland) was first realized in 2002 when it was suggested as a theme for the town’s upcoming spring festival. Now, over a decade later, the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days celebration continues to attract all manner of fun-loving oddballs with promises of live music, adult beverages, crazy costumes, and a wide assortment of offbeat events. Trygve, who receives a share of the proceeds from festival-led tours of Grandpa Bredo’s shed, dubbed it “Cryonics’ first Mardi Gras,” according to the Frozen Dead Guy Days website. Popular events include Ice Turkey Bowling, the Parade of Hearses, Tuff Shed Coffin Races, frozen t-shirt contests, snowy beach volleyball, and the Salmon Toss. Perhaps one day the man himself, finally revived by medical science, will preside over the proceedings.