Detroiters banish Nain Rouge for another blissful year

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Everybody hates the Nain Rouge.

In a celebration of all that is good in Detroit, the annual Marche Du Nain Rouge celebrates the city’s liberation from the Nain Rouge, a precursor of doom. On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered on Cass Avenue for the Mardi Gras parade, per tradition. 

For the eighth year, Detroiters prepared their grand costumes, built floats and booed the Nain as they march down Cass Avenue to the Masonic Temple. 

Supposedly in 1701, founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac met a fortune-teller, who warned him to beware of the Nain Rouge, a red dwarf known for being spiteful. Cadillac eventually died without a penny to his name.

Slowly, as Detroit improves, lore says the Nain Rouge has been secretly taunting the city’s residents, witnessing Detroit’s lowest moments and smiling about it.

The parade was an idea started by Francis Grunow and Joe Uhl, while they were law school students at Wayne State. Grunow said they city has many great parades, but rarely do Detroiters get to be the parade. 

"It's important to come to the Marche du Nain Rouge because it gives you a chance to publicly display your creative juices," said Grunow. "People come in all manner of self-expression, from simple, handmade masks to your craziest fantasy alter ego, to full neighborhood themes."

This year, for example, he said folks in Indian Village came as 50 Daffodils, which is part of an effort to raise awareness and plant one daffodil for every Detroiter. Another group came as famous Detroiters and some others as a hive of bees. 

Local businesses are usually involved as well. This year, Park Shelton Pizza served spicy Nain-themed pies, and donated some of the proceeds to the parade. 

'Fake News' reporter Nain Rouge is chased off the stage after his media feed was overloaded by parade goers posting selfies of themselves, preserving another year of hope for Detroit.  The annual parade of party revelers dressed in unique costumes shows off Detroit pride in the face of the city's nemesis, the scheming doomsayer, the Nain Rouge.

"My hope is that we can grow and evolve parade culture in Detroit," Grunow said. "It can have such a positive impact for communities, as a way of showing neighborhood pride, creativity, and ingenuity."

srahal@detroitnews.com