Nedescapes
Tuesday, March 17, 2009  

Nederland and the March Hare


by Marcelo Games

"Birthday? My dear child, this is NOT a birthday party." -- The March Hare

It's not an un-birthday party either, truth be told. It's...well, it's March in Nederland; the most famous moment of our year. If anything (I slowly turn to face camera-2 over my right shoulder, voice deepening, eyes creepily squinting in the glare of the single light beaming up at me from floor level), it's a DEATHDAY PARTY...

I speak, of course, about Nederland's own (and who else in their right minds would dare claim it?), Frozen Dead Guy Days. Yep. FDGD, with its hearse parade, coffin races, polar plunge, frozen salmon toss, pub crawl, midnight champagne tour of the dead guy's Tuff Shed, and the ever-elegant Ice Blue Ball where the dead guy look-alike contest merrily ensues. It happens every March up here, and like clockwork the world ever so slightly cocks its head, raises an eyebrow, and like a passerby at the scene of a very unusual accident, just can't help but take a brief but copious look-see.

I'm having a delayed response here. The event happened last weekend. It's over-with for 2009. The fun and wackiness have come and gone like a hiccup in the Winter swirl of our mountaintop Springtime. The camera crews have sped away. The Youtube videos have been run and run again, and again and again. The hats and t-shirts, the beer mugs and keychains have been sold or stored away, and the big old beer tent has been folded up and dutifully returned to the rental center, probably down in Boulder where it belongs. A week has passed and I'm just now getting to think about it...

The "dead guy", as we so blithely refer to the long deceased Norwegian whose post-mortem fate has brought him to this place and bestowed upon him this radical notoriety, is - was - Bredo Morstoel. He died, apparently of heart failure, in 1989. Not in Nederland, though he once visited as a live specimen some seven years earlier, but in the Winter hills of his native Norway. His daughter, Aud, and his grandson, Trygve (to make a long story shorter) had the old man's body shipped to a lab in California to be cryogenically frozen. With minds to build their own cryogenic facility and presumably begin a body-preservation-for-later-re-animation-and-healthy-restoration small business, Aud and Trygve bought their little piece of fated acreage just above the town of Nederland (Trygve had been living down in Boulder and must have decided Ned was the ideal, out of the way, funky kind of headquarters for a cryonics lab) and in 1993 proceeded to install the local frozen dead guy. Grandpa Bredo, as he's most affectionately called here, "resides", quite literally, in a metal Tuff Shed where every March at the stroke of midnight throngs of champagne-tipping FDGD participants pay awkward homage, listening to the unlikely story of his immortality as the "Ice Man" (Bo Shaffer) demonstrates his weekly occupation of keeping the dead guy packed and comfy in his minus 200 degree steel coffin, snug-tight in a bed of dry ice, safe and, well, solid, inside the now internationally (in)famous abominable Tuff Shed. For the full tale check out the Nederland Chamber of Commerce website at: www.nederlandchamber.org. Hey, every town's got its own special story, right?

"I have and excellent idea, LET'S CHANGE THE SUBJECT...how about a nice cup of tea?"
-- The March Hare (again)

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