This year, at least 24 local businesses are catering to the Nain Rouge revelers, offering discounts, specials, parties and more to the 3,000+ expected participants in the parade.
The Marche du Nain Rouge is a ceremonial event to banish the Nain Rouge (an evil red dwarf creature) from the city for another year. The revelers wear costumes so the Nain can’t recognize them and take revenge.
Here’s a little about the Nain Rouge from Wikipedia:
Its appearance is said to presage terrible events for the city. The Nain Rouge appears as a small childlike creature with red or black fur boots. It is also said to have “blazing red eyes and rotten teeth.” (Skinner 1896)
The creature is said to have attacked the first white settler of Detroit in 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac who, soon after, lost his fortune. The creature is also said to have appeared on July 30, 1763 before the Battle of Bloody Run, where 58 British soldiers were killed by Native Americans from Chief Pontiac’s tribe. The small tributary of the Detroit River which still flows through what is now Elmwood Cemetery turned red with blood for days after the battle. It is said he was seen dancing on the banks of the Detroit River.
Famous multiple sighting occurred in the days before the 1805 fire which destroyed most of Detroit. General William Hull reported a “dwarf attack” in the fog just before his surrender of Detroit in the War of 1812.
A woman claimed to have been attacked in 1884, and described the creature as resembling, “a baboon with a horned head…brilliant restless eyes and a devilish leer on its face.” Another attack was reported in 1964.
Other sightings include the day before the 12th Street Riot in 1967 and before a huge snow/ice storm of March 1976, when two utility workers are said to have seen what they thought was a child climbing a utility pole which then jumped from the top of the pole and ran away as they approached.
Making sure the Nain doesn’t terrorize Detroiters is a good thing. Bringing several thousand people together for a great time and supporting local businesses is a great thing. Midtown is one of Detroit’s thriving areas and it really is wonderful to see the progress there over the years. I lived in the neighborhood from 89-92 and things have really picked up from then until now.
Quicken Loans Content Strategist Amber Hunt has attended the Marche du Nain Rouge and agrees. “Anytime you can have thousands of people coming together to have a good time, I’m all for it. It’s a great event with great people. It’s the side of Detroit so few know about.”
Some might say it’s becoming commercialized, a claim often made about the much older and much larger Dally in the Alley, a street fair also held in Midtown. I say, more power to the businesses who are joining in. I hope the revelers support them and I hope next year’s parade is an even bigger event.
Congratulations to the organizers. You guys have proven that fun and business do go together quite well.