I stepped out of the car in a small mountain town called Nederland and was greeted by the scent of turkey legs and draft beer. Vikings marched down the town thoroughfare carrying coffins behind a convoy of vintage hearses, and they were followed a dozen other themed teams from clowns to men in dresses. Have you ever stumbled into an event that you felt was made for you? Have you felt that serendipitous chance has lead you to the place where you are supposed to be in that exact moment? That’s Frozen Dead Guy Days to me.
The story begins with the end of a man named Bredo Morstoel, the official frozen dead guy. In the hills above the town there is a Tuff Shed that gets packed every month with 1600 pounds of dry ice, covering the sarcophagus and keeping Grandpa Bredo frosty. He’s been frozen for 26 years now, and the festival has been going for 15.
It’s not spring in the Colorado Mountains but the day is warm and the beer is cold. We walk in hoodies weaving between macabre tableaus and jovial men and women. In the distance a crowd gathers to watch the Polar Plunge, which isn’t quite as polar as expected. The water levels in the reservoir are low, so water is pumped from the lake into a large above ground pool. The EMTs are still fully suited up in their cold water gear and the harsh breaths and stripping of a costumed Deadpool confirm that the chill still bites.
Though the parade was entertainment enough, it wasn’t a procession just for show. Each team with their dressed pallbearers were in for a muddy obstacle course. In the end, it was the nerds that won a crushing victory over the Cereal Killers. The nerds also conquered the six time champion Pink Socks. Don’t google what that is. I’m serious. Don’t do it.
The atmosphere is closer to a music festival than a funerary anniversary, and I couldn’t have loved it more. It was a trip made on a whim to a festival that cost almost nothing and provided an afternoon of laughs and larger than life peopleI now know what I will be doing in the early weekends of March for the foreseeable future.
Check out the video below to see highlights of the race and to get a feel of the festival. The good people at WeTubersColorado put it together. I also added some random pictures in the gallery below.
Tony Southcotte: Tony hails from the Rocky Mountains somewhere around the state of Colorado. Possibly raised by grizzly bears, this gritty denizen of the arena now spends most of his time grappling with Java updates and dysfunctional RAM. With not much fiction under his belt, it might seem tempting to bet against Mister Southcotte, but an impressive knowledge of everything from PVC pipe to psychedelic drugs makes Tony a storehouse of fiction waiting to hit the paper. Plus, you know, there’s the possibility of him ripping you apart like a grizzly bear.