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a frozen dead guy stole my voice

March 7, 2010

…or something like that. At any rate, it’s gone today, unless I painfully force it to come out. Woo illness! Just when I was healthy again!

So yesterday, I journeyed up the canyon to a strange little town called Nederland, where they were hosting the annual “Frozen Dead Guy Days” festival. I don’t know if I can do it justice, so here’s what Nederland’s chamber of commerce has to say on the matter:

Grandpa Bredo’s been on ice for 20 years now, still awaiting reanimation in his Tuff Shed and Nederland is once again planning a grand celebration of winter life with Frozen Dead Guy Days. This year’s festival is going to be the best yet with live music all three days in the Reanimate Yourself tent and beer garden, a parade of hearses, ice carving demonstration, Harvest House Medicinals coffin races, frozen Salmon tossing, icy turkey bowling and Sunday Local Funday with great kid activities.

While I was up there with some friends yesterday, we watched the coffin races — which were, disappointingly, not a soapbox derby type event, but rather a foot race in teams of seven carrying colorfully-designed coffins with a team member inside through an icy motorcross-style track — along with seeing Elephant Revival play (again, I saw them on Wednesday, and this marks the fourth time I have seen them play — they’re fantastic).  Mostly, we just hung around downtown and people-watched while drinking beer and enjoying the gorgeous weather.  It really was a most excellent day, other than the fact that I felt progressively less well and my voice faded throughout the day.

Why a frozen dead guy?  Because Coloradans are delightfully weird.  Actually, it was discussed by our posse yesterday that this is one of the few European-heritage events to celebrate death that we can think of — it’s generally much more common in Latin American cultures.  This particular death story is just so bizarre that it really needed to be commemorated in a festival.  Turns out that a guy moved over here from Norway in 1989 to live with his mother, bringing along the recently-cryogenically-preserved body of his dear old grandpa when he came.  With dreams of establishing a cryogenics facility up in Nederland, they kept grandpa on ice in the shed until that could happen.  Alas, the grandson got deported, and his mother, eventually evicted.  When she was forced to move, she talked to a reporter about her fears that gramps would thaw out in the shed; the story caused everyone to (understandably) flip out, and the town established a law forbidding this sort of thing.  Luckily, grandpa was “grandfathered in” to the law, since he had become a local legend by this point.  Today he’s still chillin’ out there in a newly-refurbished “Tuff Shed Cryogenic Mausoleum,” which you can tour for the low, low price of $25 during FDGD.  We didn’t check it out, being of the low-income type and all.

Amusingly enough, the Nederland FDGD coffin races are not the only coffin races in Colorado every year.  A town a little further south, Manitou Springs, hosts an annual coffin race and parade, in honor of a mudslide that sent the mortal remains of one Emma Crawford racing down the nearby mountain.  The full story of that one can be found here.

Oh, “Colorful Colorado” indeed.

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