by Aaron Storms
This year’s fun and frosty event started with the Blue Ball on Friday night with live music from three of the 30 bands that would be playing through the three-day event. The Ice Queen and Grandpa look-alike contest is a favorite among attendees, and they were hailing from all over the nation. Because of the late night music, dancers were given matching headphones after 9 pm so they could enjoy the music, but not disturb the town folks who might be trying to get a few z’s.
Fifteen years ago, this all started as a tribute event to Grandpa Bredo Morstol, who wanted to be cryogenically frozen at his death so that theoretically he could be resurrected when a cure is found for what ailed him. Of course whether he is still frozen in a Tuff Shed full of dry ice somewhere in the snowy mountains surrounding Nederland remains to be seen. His granddaughter’s even made a short documentary film about this and it achieved national attention. Regardless, it has been a great excuse for folks to get together for some frosty fun in the mountains when most other events are still a few months away and waiting on warmer weather.
Despite warnings of local Ned friends and coming late to the party early on Saturday afternoon, I was surprised to see cars parked for miles in every direction coming into Ned, but cheerful folks didn’t seem to mind the hike. Parking high above the reservoir, I hiked cross-country down to the Polar Plunge that was just getting underway. Standing close enough to the pool to get splashed by the contestants, I asked a few spectators where they were from, and how they had heard about the event. One guy said he saw it on the plane as things to do in Denver this weekend, but most had friends who lived in the Denver or Boulder area and had made a special trip just for this event. One couple was from San Francisco, and they braved the icy waters to do a tandem jump, while others were more creative in their acrobatic launches into the deep. One girl from New York peeled off her shirt and with the encouragement and cheers of her friends, made the plunge. Most participants kept their clothes on or had super hero costumes, but a few guys stripped down to their skivvies and thankfully there were no wardrobe malfunctions.
Once the Polar Plungers were finished, the area was cleared for the upcoming Coffin Races. Since it was unseasonably warm at around 50 degrees, much of the snow had melted off and B&F Grocery graciously donated snow from their snow mountain in the parking lot. This made for slippery footing for the many teams, and of course the infamous Pink Socks team from Manitou Springs once again made the trip to compete against the best we could offer. There were many teams facing off in the sudden-death races, and it was highly entertaining to see what the 2-team competitors could do with one member in the coffin while teammates raced through the course, with much carnage ensuing. Most of the racers wore costumes designed to intimidate the Pink Socks, but even the Speedo guys, Cereal Killers, Vikings, War Boys, and awesome Solid Cold Dancers couldn’t distract the champs. At least until they met the Nerds…who with their lab coats, safety helmets, and calculated efficiency managed to do what no team had done before in six years – they edged out the Pink Socks to a resounding roar and standing ovation from the crowd! It came down to the final run-off between the Cereal Killers and Nerds, and the Nerds prevailed and were crowned this year’s champions. The Pink Socks team was called front and center and recognized for their winning ways and giving the contest legitimacy, as they had pledged that this was their final year so that other teams could have a shot.
Working my way through the throngs of people, I checked out the great BBQ and food vendor booths, and was drawn to the music emanating from the huge tent on one side of the gated arena. Standing near the entrance, my heart raced and my body vibrated to the thump of the base, but with a waiting line to get in, decided to check out other events and vendors. One booth had two guys doing amazing wood carvings with chainsaws, and they had a captivated audience. All alcohol consumption was done in tents and out of sight for the most part, making this a family-friendly event.
Making my way on back into town, I stopped to check out the Frozen T-shirt contest, the Brain Freeze contest, and the Ice Turkey Bowling. All were entertaining and required more frozen skill than you’d think, with contestants and friends having a great deal of fun. Stopping by the Visitor’s Center, I was one of the last few allowed inside to make my T-shirt purchase as the volunteers were pretty played out after all day, but were good sports.
If you’ve never been and like unusual fun events, it’s worth your time to check out – you might be surprised!