Venice has Carnevale, New Orleans has Mardi Gras and Detroit has…the Marche du Nain Rouge? While not a pre-Lenten celebration, Detroit’s Marche du Nain Rouge is a carnival-like celebration with a unique Motor City twist. The relatively new annual festival banishes all of the bad from the city while celebrating all of the good with a distinct Detroit pride.
The Marche is based on an old legend surrounding Detroit’s founding. The story goes Detroit’s founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, was tormented by images of a little red dwarf, the “Nain Rouge.” Cadillac approached a fortune-teller who told him the Nain was a representation of his ambition, anger, pride and envy – all of the things that would hold him back from truly becoming great. And while she foreboded a great city, she warned of a series of setbacks and personal misfortune if Cadillac were to provoke this Nain Rouge.
Of course, Cadillac did go on to found the city, but legend has it upon encountering the Nain in person, he chased it away with a stick – setting off a series of troubles for the city to come and, perhaps, contributing to Cadillac’s own misfortune – returning to France penniless after founding the city.
Though Detroit’s troubles have been well-documented, its history is that of a city of resilience, one that continues to overcome, fight back and thrive in the face of adversity – and that is exactly what the Marche is all about.
Now, every March around the time of the vernal equinox, revelers gather to march along Detroit’s Cass Corridor to chase the Nain and all of the negative things it brings out of the city. Costumes act as a disguise and protection from the Nain, preventing it from extracting person revenge. The day ends with a series of parties across the city in a true celebration of good over evil and a hope for better things to come.
If anyone has any doubt about Detroit’s comeback, the Marche du Nain Rouge is a true embodiment of the spirit of the city that can only be experienced in person.
For more information visit www.MarcheDuNainRouge.com.