The Nain Rouge, an evil little spirit that has plagued the city of Detroit and its people for over 300-years, has been banished for another year.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of colorful costumed, mask wearing men, women and children, converged at the 3rd Street Saloon this past Sunday to rid the city of this menacing little red devil. They were joined by ribbon wearing dogs sporting bright sweaters, bicyclists pulling handmade, decorated chariots and curious bystanders from the neighborhood. After opening ceremonies at the Saloon (where the devil himself was spotted) the Marche de Nain Rouge headed into the Cass Corridor on it’s way to Cass Park for food, drink and revelry.
The lively, Mardi Gras type parade, was led by the 20 plus-piece Detroit Party Marching Band who played tunes inspired by the fervor and spirit of Brazil’s Carnival Parades and the Crescent City’s finest marching bands. The parade participants, in true Mardi Gras form, wore wild-looking masks and costumes to disguise themselves from the Nain, so when the little creature returns next year, he won’t hunt them down and cause mischief and upheaval in their lives.
According to legend, the little red-faced, dwarf sized imp, crossed paths with Detroit’s founder Antoine Cadillac and his wife while they were out walking one evening. Supposedly, the evil little red dwarf of Detroit shrieked wildly at Cadillac and his wife when he came upon them. Cadillac gruffly yelled, “Get out of my way, you red imp!” while striking him with his walking cane. The monster vanished into the darkness with a wicked, scornful laugh. Since then, the red devil has bestowed ill tidings and grief upon the residents of Detroit.
La Marche du Nain Rouge, held on the first Sunday of spring, banishes the Detroit devil from the city until his ghastly return on the first day of winter. Ridding the city of this creepy character transforms Detroiter’s fears and doubts into hope and happiness for a new life in the coming spring.
Judging by the costumes I saw while bicycling along the parade route this past Sunday, the revelers have nothing to worry about should that devil of a dwarf return next year.