Back in 1994 a Norwegian by the name of Trygve Bauge was found to be living illegally in the small town of Nederland in Colorado, seventeen miles west of the city of Boulder.
State officials soon deported Bauge back to his hometown of Oslo in Norway and locals began discussing the popular Norwegian and his unusual interest in Cryonics, which is the freezing of dead people in the hope that later scientific advances may make their revival and cure possible in future years.
Needless to say rumours began to spread and within a few weeks local police took a trip to Bauge’s isolated and windswept property to have a look around.
Inside a rickety old shed behind the house officers found a five-foot high, thickly insulated wooden box and inside was the body of Bauge’s grandfather, Bredo Morstoel, resting in a stainless steel coffin and packed in dry ice.
Further investigations revealed Morstoel had died of a heart attack in Norway five years earlier and his grandson had the body preserved, shipped to a cryogenics centre in America and subsequently frozen.
When his money began to run out and the storage fees increased Bauge then collected his grandfather for storage in the shed behind his house.
Unsurprisingly the national media descended upon the small town reporting about the ‘frozen dead guy’ and locals were appalled.
A State Judge swiftly passed a law preventing the further storage of dead bodies on private property and Bauge, from his new home in Oslo, threatened to ‘sue until hell freezes over’ if his Grandfather was moved.
In the meantime he was paying local Bo Shaffer $200 per month to drive an ice truck up to the shed to repack Grandpa and ensure he remained frozen.
It turns out that under state law a frozen dead guy needs no visa to remain where he is and the city had no way of evicting him.
Tales of the ‘Frozen Dead Guy’ began circulating in earnest. Initially Tessa Warren, the President of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce, was not amused but soon she became aware of how the situation that made her town famous across America could be used to their advantage.
It all began as the millennium approached and, as locals thawed their attitude towards the frozen Grandpa, a champagne millennium birthday party was arranged in his honour and Bo Shaffer, now known as The Ice Man, sold off parts of the original shed for $15 a time to tourists.
A year later the first ‘Frozen Dead Guy Day’ was organised and tourists flocked into town to be greeted with frozen dead guy hats, T-shirts, postcards and posters whilst Shaffer provided lamplight tours of the shed as champagne stands appeared in the yard close to Grandpa’s resting place, all with the full blessing of his grandson Trygve Bauge at home in Norway who believes it is a fun way to honour his grandpa whilst keeping Colorado a ‘safe place for cryonics in the future.’
‘It’s like one of those things that never goes away, like a mole,’ says Tessa Warren. ‘People now associate Nederland with a frozen dead guy, and we can’t make it disappear, so why not use it to create an economic opportunity for our town?’
Organizers expect this year’s event (which includes a frozen T shirt contest, coffin race, the frozen brain contest the Grandpa Crawl and even a Grandpa look-alike contest) could attract as many as 8,000 people to the area, which is more than five times the town’s population.
The festival has even appeared in the pages of the Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic and a game show network has broadcast the events for a ‘Games Across America’ TV programme. And it all happened without spending a single penny on advertising.
I wonder what Grandpa will make of it all if he finally does wake up?