Do not come as you are. Come as you once were or yet could be.
For over 300 years, on the first Sunday after the Spring Equinox, Detroiters have come out to celebrate our rebirth and liberation from a fiend who embodies everything that holds Detroit back. It is a time of celebrating everything that is good about the City of Detroit.
Quebec City has the Quebec Winter Carnival- a fun, friendly event featuring an adorable snowman- the Bonhomme de Neige. Hes jolly and fun and great with the kids…as far as we know anyways.
But here in Detroit, we celebrate our liberation from a way more badass and sinister creature- The Nain Rouge.
Who is the Nain Rouge?
Legend has it that over 300 years ago in 1701, Antoine de le Mothe Cadillac met a fortune-teller who warned him to beware of the Nain Rouge. The fiendish red devil was the embodiment of everything that held him back. If Cadillac decided to found a city on the narrow straits between Michigan and Ontario, it would be a long, difficult uphill battle if the city were to prosper.
One day, Cadillac happened on the Nain Rouge and the creature mocked and taunted him and Cadillac chased away the creature with a stick. Sure enough the fortune proved to be true, and Cadillac returned to France penniless. For the first hundred, years his colony fared no better, war and strife plagued the colony. The Nain Rouge is said to have presided over every bad event in Detroit’s history. From Bloody Run, to the fall of Detroit to the British (or Americans depending on how you look at it), to the economic downturn and the Detroit riots, the Nain is said to have seen it all.
So for 300 years, every spring, Detroiters gather to celebrate their liberation from the Nain Rouge in a celebration of what is good and prosperous in the city. With hope for a better future for Detroit.
So what is happening with The Marche Du Nain Rouge?
Every spring, on the first Sunday after the spring equinox Detroiters gather in celebration of the city and to scare away the Nain Rouge back to whence he came. People dress in bright costumes so that the Nain cannot recognize them when he returns for revenge. A parade travels down the road with large, ostentatious parade floats that culminates with a burning of an effigy of the Nain Rouge. The Nain Rouge himself makes an appearance at the event taunting revellers with fresh promises of the City’s destruction. Curiously though, since the Marche resumed in 2010, Detroit has only been getting stronger and stronger since. Maybe its because we’re doing such a great job of keeping the Nain at bay?
Tell me a bit more about the details.
The main event will be happening this Sunday at 1pm in the parking lot of Traffic Jam & Snug near Motor City Brewing works and working its way down the Cass Corridor where it will terminate at the Masonic Temple.
Revellers are encouraged to come masked or fully costumed; groups are encouraged to join in the fun with DIY chariots. There is no cost, just come out and have a good time! Also stick around for the many after parties that will be going on all over the city.
Though Marche Du Nain Rouge bears a lot of similarities with Mardis Gras, don’t be fooled into thinking 2nd Ave. is Bourbon Street. Publicly drink at your own risk.
But don’t let that stop you from going out, dressing in a funky costume and basking in a very unique Detroit street party!