Celebrating Detroit’s 10th Annual Marche Du Nain Rouge

A Brief History

In 1701, legendary founder of Detroit Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac met a fortune-teller, who warned him to beware of the Nain Rouge, the “Red Dwarf” who appeared to Cadillac in a dream. She warned Cadillac that the the little red imp is the embodiment of his ambition, anger, pride, envy — everything that held him back. The Nain Rouge, she told him, is the harbinger of doom. However, when Cadillac first saw the fiend in person, the Nain taunted him mercilessly and Cadillac chased the Nain away with a stick. 

Unfortunately, the fortune turned out to be true and Cadillac died penniless after he left Detroit for France. The city he founded, however, fared better, endured and prospered (mostly), against the fiendish efforts of the Nain Rouge.

For more than 300 years, Detroiters memorialized Cadillac’s actions and willingness to persevere and hope for better things, combined with the determination to rise from the ashes. At Detroit’s worst moments, the Nain has been there, cackling or taunting the city’s residents. And so every year, Detroiters celebrate liberation from the Nain, a new beginning, and whatever is good and working in the city in a spring festival for the good and betterment of the city of Detroit.

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The Nain. Photo by Kate Sassak

Marche Du Nain Rouge: Bringing Mirth To The Cass Corridor For 10 Years

The annual Marche du Nain Rouge parade returns March 24, 2019, for its 10th year.

The festivities bring together thousands of costumed revelers to march down Second Avenue to face Detroit’s legendary harbinger of doom, the Nain Rouge.

Just what was happening in 2009 that was so bad that made people want to dress up in costumes and revive an old legend by poking fun at a mythical red dwarf?

Organizers have watched the parade grow from a ragtag collection of a couple hundred revelers in 2009 to an annual gathering of thousands of participants and onlookers. The parade will include residents of city neighborhoods representing with their own themed floats and costumes, handmade human-powered floats, Caribbean Mardi Gras Productions dancers, Gabriel Brass Band’s second line horns, the Tilted Axes mobile guitar marching band, local celebrities (as needed), and whoever else shows up.

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Revelers on Cass Avenue in Detroit’s Marche Du Nain Rouge. Photo by Kate Sassak

What makes this event different from other parades? You are the parade! All are welcome to participate. Grab a costume — dress as wild and wonderful as you like — and then make it weirder. People bring their dogs, babies, grandparents, carts, bikes, neighbors, exes, and even horses (for real). Just no motorized floats without prior permission, please.

The revelry starts at noon March 24 at the corner of Second and Canfield with a gathering featuring local artists, music, fire performers and other theatrics. The parade starts at 1 p.m. (ish), and proceeds down Second to the Masonic Temple, where revelers face their vaunted foe, the Nain Rouge.

Businesses in the area have embraced the madness and the merriment, selling merch, hosting Nain-themed brunches, and, of course, the best after-parties Detroit can offer.

After the parade, the Marche doesn’t stop. Look for after parties around Midtown, including the official party inside the Masonic Temple featuring DJs, dancing food, drink, official merchandise. 

The week before, check out local businesses participating in the Fete du Nain, for specials and Nain-themed delights. Watch www.marchedunainrouge.com and their Facebook page for participating businesses.

“We are so grateful for all of the support from local businesses, charitable foundations, and the community. A special thank you to Midtown Detroit, Inc. and the Knight Foundation for once again making the parade possible and recognizing the positive impact a little bit of fun has on the community.” – Francis Grunow, Co-founder.

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