Let’s get weird. Marche du Nain Rouge is an annual festival and parade that takes place in Midtown the Sunday after the spring equinox. It involves fending off the Nain, a nuisance in a red mask who is responsible for all your misfortune throughout the year. Intrigued? This year it falls on March 22, 2015.
Nain Rouge is French for “red dwarf.” The Nain Rouge’s intent and public image have evolved over the past few hundred years, so while some of the original legends considered the Nain Rouge a protector of Detroit, he is now largely considered a pest who brings misfortune and turmoil to the city and the people he encounters. Whenever something bad happened, people would attribute it to the Nain Rouge. Did you get a flat tire on the way to work? The Nain Rouge probably dug up the pothole that caused it. Did a branch fall on your house? The Nain Rouge was most likely sitting in the tree with a handsaw. From the words of the Nain Rouge himself, “Renewed hope? Drop dead losers!”
The Marche du Nain Rouge restarted a few years ago as a way to reconnect with a little bit of Detroit history. Hundreds of years ago, people would gather over the first weekend of spring and wear masks and costumes so the Nain Rouge couldn’t see them to curse the individual underneath.
What started out as a celebrated ritual to fend off superstition has evolved into a celebration that’s a bit like a mini Mardi Gras party. People flock to Midtown, don costumes, have a few drinks, and chastise the Nain Rouge when he appears to reveal his devious plans.
The Marche du Nain Rouge continues to serve as a way to metaphorically stand up and make a statement that Detroit and the people who live here are strong. We’ll survive no matter what tricks the Nain Rouge has up his sleeve.
This year the festival is on Sunday, March 22, 2015, starting at 1:00 p.m. But there will be events around town all weekend. Seriously, everyone should go. It’s really fun.
You can read more about the Marche du Nain Rouge and its roots here!