DETROIT – The annual Marche du Nain Rouge parade returns to Detroit’s Midtown this Sunday.
Festivities will begin around noon with music and entertainment at the corner of Second and Canfield, with the parade’s opening ceremony starting around 1 p.m. The parade returns from a pandemic hiatus last year.
The Marche du Nain Rouge is usually on the first weekend of spring, or close to it, and ushers in a year of glory for the City of Detroit by running the devil -- the Nain -- out of town. Last year, the Nain didn’t actually show up -- organizers are teasing a possible return.
“Like any successful, long-running series, there comes a time when you have to go big and put on a spectacle like never before,” speculates Francis Grunow, co-founder of the Marche du Nain Rouge. “We are preparing to see a new side of the Nain, something big like we’ve never experienced from him before. Possibly better than Cats.”
Paradegoers typically dress in costume for the march down Second Avenue to the Masonic Temple -- but you don’t have to dress up to participate. Local businesses in the area will also be hosting pop ups, offering Nain Rouge merch.
“Our local businesses in Midtown are a key part of the experience, and we hope that Marchers will explore and visit them when they participate in the parade,” Grunow said. “The Marche du Nain Rouge is a nonprofit, and many of our Midtown businesses support the work we do to put on this annual event for everyone. We are so grateful.”
A brief history of the Nain Rouge
In 1701, the 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 little red imp was 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 despite 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.