8 things to know before the 8th annual Marche du Nain Rouge
It’s March, which means that its time for Detroiters to take to the streets and banish the Nain Rouge, the city’s fictional harbinger of doom.
Now in its eighth year, the Marche du Nain Rouge takes the fun of a local folktale and uses it as an excuse to march in a colorful parade down the Cass Corridor to kick off the spring with positive vibes for the city.
The story goes that Detroit founder Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac first encountered the red dwarf in 1701 and Detroiters have been chasing the imp away ever since. It’s said that every time the city faces a setback, the Nain Rouge was there, so it’s best to kick him to the curb each spring.
Many of the 6,000 revelers who participate in the Marche du Nain Rouge are longtime supporters, so we’ve asked a few of them what people who are marching for the first time need to know this year. They gave us eight suggestions:
1. Costumes are important. Veteran marcher Nicole Lapointe says that newcomers may be hesitant to show up without a costume or with a basic one, but they should get creative. Show up without a look and “you will stand out because of it.” “Go crazy, get creative and forget about looking silly,” Lapoint said. “You’re not there just to watch a parade, you are the parade.”
2. It’s family friendly. Yes, the red dwarf himself can be a little scary, but the event is meant to include everyone, including little ones who can handle a moderate level of spookiness.
3. There’s a Nain Rouge coloring book. The official Marche du Nain Rouge coloring book is available for purchase at the beginning of the parade and inside the Masonic Temple, where the march ends. It’s also available at marchedunainrouge.com/shop, along with Nain Rouge beer koozies, a shirt and poster.
4. Dogs are welcome. Ederique Goudia and her 160-pound English Mastiff named Bear have marched along with the Gabriel Brass Band for the past four years. “He loves marching in the parade” Goudia says of Bear. “He mainly just loves all the attention he gets. He has his costume all picked out for the parade, so be sure to come say ‘hi.’ ”
5. There’s a New Orleans vibe. Goudia, a Louisiana native, says the Marche allows her to “enjoy a little piece of home.” “It reminds me so much of New Orleans and Mardi Gras with all the colorful costumes, live bands and entertainment, the hospitality of all the participating businesses and neighborhoods, and the fun of it all.”
6. Do-It-Yourself spirit: Besides colorful costumes, neighborhood groups are encouraged to make a chariot or float, and the most creative will be awarded cash prizes.
7. It’s a citywide event. Business around the parade route will offer deals the week leading up to the event. On Sunday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., City Bird and Nest (460 W. Canfield) will have complimentary refreshments and free Nain Rouge beads with purchase. Filson (441 W. Canfield) will host a dog costume contest before the march starts. HopCat Detroit (4265 Woodward) will have special Nain beers through Sunday. Find more details and specials at marchedunainrouge.com.
8. Stay for the after-parties. One of the two main post-Marche events is inside the Masonic Temple (500 Temple) with DJ Skeez and Sheefy McFly, a cosplay costume contest and food, beverages and merchandise will be sold. This is where the prizes for best float and costume will be awarded, and there also is stroller parking and a quiet room. At the Old Miami (3930 Cass), DJ collective Nothing Elegant and friends will provide jams for an indoor and outdoor party. “We have been playing this party together for the last four years, and it’s been incredible to be outside after a long winter,” says Nothing Elegant DJ Amy Kaherl. “There will be food and great jams from pop, hip-hop, soul dance and new wave.”
Marche du Nain Rouge
Noon Sunday; parade steps off at 1 p.m.
Starts at Traffic Jam & Snug
511 W. Canfield, Detroit