Marche du Nain Rouge parade returns to Detroit's Cass Corridor for 10th year Sunday

The Nain taunts the crowd at Marche du Nain Rouge 2016. Credit Steven Pham
The Nain taunts the crowd at Marche du Nain Rouge 2016. Credit Steven Pham

The annual Marche du Nain Rouge will return to Detroit's Cass Corridor this Sunday for its 10 year anniversary. 

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

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.

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. 

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.

About the Author: