The True Story (yes, it’s all true)…
30 Years on Ice
Grandpa Bredo is over 110 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 Guy Days.
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 monikered the “Ice Man.” Every month, Shaffer and a team of volunteers delivered 1,600 pounds of dry ice and packs it around Grandpa Bredo in his sarcophagus, surrounded by foam padding, a tarp, and blankets. As the Cryonicist-in-Charge at the time, Shaffer kept Grandpa at a steady -60 degrees Fahrenheit. He also gave 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 doing fine).
Currently, Brad Wickham who moved to Nederland a decade ago hoping to connect with nature and start a new career, is in charge of caring for Colorado’s chilliest patient, hauling dry ice up the hill and tucking grandpa in it. He takes pride in this responsibility Bredo’s grandson Trygve has entrusted to him and is committed to Grandpa’s preservation and possible reanimation.
It’s a Dead Man’s Party
For a town like Nederland that thrives on the colorful, offbeat, and 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 live music shows, icy events including coffin racing, polar plunging, frozen t-shirt contests, frozen turkey bowling, and more basically if it is fun and can be done in the cold, it goes! People come from around the world every March to celebrate the Frozen Dead Guy.