Detroiters gather to drive out the Nain Rouge

DETROIT – The Marche du Nain Rouge kicked off in Midtown celebrating the spring equinox and driving the departure of the legendary fiendish imp intent on ruining the city of Detroit.

The seventh annual parade began at 1 p.m. at Second Avenue and Canfield Street, and proceeds down Second Avenue ending at the Masonic Temple.

The legend began in 1701 as a warning from a fortune-teller to Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac to beware of the Nain Rouge, a red imp that embodied Cadillac’s ambition, anger, pride and envy.

Cadillac chased the dwarf away with a stick and each year Detroiters gather, masked and in costume, to drive the evil spirit from the city.

"There's a lot of folklore that sort of revolves around what the Nain is and it's up to interpretation," David Presnell said. "The Marche is about bringing people together through positivity and trying to push the city into progressive forward motion."

The Nain Rouge is said to appear before a disaster strikes the city. According to legend, the imp appeared before the Battle of Bloody Run and before the infamous fire of 1805 that nearly destroyed the city.

More recently, the Nain was seen prior to the 12th Street Riot in 1967. Many attribute the city’s bankruptcy and the struggles of DPS to the imp.

"I think that the whole concept behind dancing the evil out or the devil out, colorful costumes always help to bring energy up and make things fun," said Tene Dismuke of Carribean Mardi Gras Productions.

The Marche du Nain Rouge lays the groundwork for hope in the coming year and for over 300 years Cadillac’s actions have been memorialized by the city’s residents.


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