When the people of Nederland say that Grandpa is out back in the shed, they don't mean he's out there tinkering around with the snowblower. No, they mean that Bredo "Gramps" Morstel, a Norwegian who passed away in 1989 and was cryogenically frozen by his grandson, Trygve Bauge, is just chillin' in a Tuff Shed overlooking the town.
When Bauge was deported in 1994, local officials were surprised to find a coffin encased in dry ice on his property. After getting over their initial shock, Nederlanders embraced the old guy, so to speak, and decided to honor him with an annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival. "It's definitely a little eerie, but we love Grandpa," says Teresa Warren, one of the festival's organizers. "Why not have fun with it? It's the perfect excuse to have a winter festival."
Things will heat up again this weekend for the second incarnation of the event. One highlight of this year's gramps gathering will be the world premiere of Grandpa's Still in the Tuff Shed,a followup to the 1998 award-winning short documentary Grandpa's in the Tuff Shed, made by sisters Kathy, Shelly and Robin Beeck of Boulder.
"With actual ghost sightings of Grandpa and the festival, we just knew that we had to make another film," says producer Kathy.
Organizers in the tiny 1,300-person mountain town are hoping for more than 4,000 visitors to turn out this weekend; last year, some 600 people attended the festival. Other Frozen Dead Guy Days draws include coffin races through a snow obstacle course (the Beeck sisters will be participating again this year with their homemade hot-pink coffin); a Polar Plunge at Chipeta Park; Grandpa Look-Alike and Snow Sculpting contests; Grandpa's Blue Ball at the Community Center on Saturday night; and Sunday afternoon's Frozen and Dead Video Festival.
Nederland is going Hollywood for its first major movie premiere, rolling out the red carpet and renting huge spotlights for the event. And tours of Grandpa's temporary resting place will be held several times daily, including midnight rounds on Friday and Saturday. (You can't actually see Morstel's corpse, but the shed's decorated with pictures of him.) After all, when the people of Nederland say that they love Grandpa, they really mean it. "I see him all the time in my dreams," says Warren. "He's near and dear to my heart."