by Heather Worrell
The 14th Annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival activities did not disappoint the record-breaking crowd this year. An estimated 15,000 people attended the event on Saturday with some of the most popular events being the parade, polar plunge, and coffin races. The festival pays homage to Nederland’s very own frozen “Grandpa Bredo” being kept on dry ice above Nederland and has been named one of the world’s best festivals to attend by Fest 300.
Over 20 daring souls signed up for the frigid polar plunge all boasting in the thrill of hypothermia-causing activity. Who could resist watching and applauding costumed and lightly clothed human counterparts jumping into a square baring the frigid waters of the frozen lake at Chipeta Park? Not many could avoid this on a day with beautiful sunshine, light breezes and a high of 68 degrees. Locals and tourists of all ages were entertained and a jovial crowd to cheer on the plungers.
Frozen Dead Guy Days (FDGD) officials judged each entrant in order to determine three categories of winners, including: Overall Best Costume; Best/Most Skin, and Most Theatrical. Entrants of all ages and backgrounds entered the contest dressed in everything from not-so-modest swimwear, to multi-colored tutus and wild animal print leggings. The variety of scenes expanded to giant inflatable character suits and a schoolgirl uniform fit for Britney Spears that was sported by a harry and beer-bellied man. The enormous crowd enjoyed the show as the live music could be heard from the nearby Reanimate Yourself beer tent.
The polar plunge is in no doubt made extremely successful by the safety precautions and logistical support of the Nederland Fire Department. Two firefighters remained in the water dressed in special suits to protect them from the cold and assist the plungers out of the lake after their jump. A third firefighter stood nearby to help lift out the contestants shocked by the frigid waters. Although there were many valiant entries into the Polar Plunge, there could only be one winner per category. The Overall Best Costume was won by “Rocky Raccoon,” sporting a nine foot tall inflatable raccoon costume into the water. The Best/Most Skin was awarded to male entrant calling himself “F Cancer” who wore bright green speedos and a chest adorned with his slogan. Lastly, the Most Theatrical Award was scooped up by “Grandpa and Zom-Bee,” a male and female pair where a look alike Grandpa was chased into the lake by a zombie bee.
If the prospect of chilling future corpses in the lake wasn’t enough to draw you in, then the coffin races should do. Over 30 teams competed of six pallbearers each racing their “corpse” teammate stored away in a coffin while trekking through an obstacle course created in typical mountain town spring landscape of snow, ice and mud. All created a team name and many represented a theme through their costumes and coffin décor. The obstacle course was created in the park centered around the playground equipment and was a bit shorter than in years past. The shorter course could be easily viewed from various locations providing many an overlook of all the action.
Teams raced in pairs in hopes of winning the $300 cash prize and numerous other gifts. The four teams with the best times advanced to the next level for a “Eulogy Off” where the pallbearers had to give an on-the-spot eulogy for their corpse in the coffin while being sure to include the phrases: frozen stiff, Grandpa, and cold-cocked. The Four Finalist teams were Team Sacs, The Cereal Killers, The Frozen Luchadores, and defending five time champions, the Pink Socks. The audience helped decide the best eulogy by the sound of their applause. The Cereal Killers won this round and received a reward of 3 seconds off their final race time. After eulogies were imparted, the final race bouts continued to determine the new coffin races champion. The Pink Socks renewed their FDGD Coffin Races champion title for the sixth year with a record course time of 29.13 seconds.
If those events weren’t cold enough to shatter your gumption, then you could also try your hand at Icy Turkey Bowling where you could test out your poultry bowling skills. Or you could also try the Brain Freeze, and the Pioneer Inn’s Frozen T-shirt Contests where you try to put on a frozen shirt quicker than everyone else. Special guest turkey vultures from the Rocky Mountain Raptor program were visiting the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center. Across the street, the Carousel of Happiness held a ring toss fundraiser for children of all ages.
The festival has been deemed by many locals as a great success, especially for the businesses that were inundated with such an enormous tourist crowd. Many businesses touted that they believe Saturday to have been their best day for sales in the entire year. Many lunch goers encountered restaurants filled to the brim with patrons or food vendor trucks having to temporarily close up in order to cook more food after running out. Traffic controllers helped the main streets to avoid stand still traffic and to help create paths for any emergency vehicles. There were only 5,000 people expected to attend this year, but crowd estimates are closer to 15,000. There are many volunteers that work hard all weekend long to help keep the crowd safe and running smoothly.
The festivities continued into Sunday and included several other fun and cold weather activities. The frozen dead guy “Grandpa Bredo,” seemed to be in danger of thawing out with such gorgeous, record-breaking weather. Festival goers were soaking up the sun while participating in more activities, like Human Foosball which was a local hit. Mary and Burr Wilcox of Burr’s Construction teamed up with Indian Peaks Ace Hardware to help build a life size human foosball table. Many locals are hoping it remains a permanent addition to the town and there’s even talk of starting a league since the participants and spectators enjoyed it so much.