Detroit's Marche du Nain Rouge turns 10 this year

Mar 12, 2019 at 12:30 pm
click to enlarge Detroit’s Marche du Nain Rouge parade draws thousands. - Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Detroit’s Marche du Nain Rouge parade draws thousands.

Details are set for Detroit's annual Marche du Nain Rouge, which returns Sunday, March 24 for its tenth year of chasing away the legendary "Red Dwarf" of Detroit folklore.

The party starts at noon on the corner of Second and Canfield Street (across from Traffic Jam & Snug). As in past years, partiers are encouraged to show up wearing black and red costumes — "disguises" so the Nain Rouge won't recognize you. The Nain Rouge then makes an appearance, taunting the crowd. Around 1 p.m., everyone chases the Nain down Cass Avenue to the steps of the Masonic Temple, where there's more taunting and finally, more partying.

The legend of the Nain Rouge is said to go back to 1701, when Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Detroit. The short version of the tale is that Cadillac was attacked by the feared "Red Dwarf," who then cursed Cadillac and the city. (The truth is actually a bit more complicated: it's all outlined in a 2016 Metro Times cover story.) The parade was formed by then-WSU law school students Francis Grunow and Joe Uhl in 2009, who wanted to create a Detroit-style take on Mardis Gras. Apparently plenty of others wanted the same thing; the idea took off, and the event now draws thousands, featuring elaborate floats, New Orleans-style marching bands, Carribbean dancers, fire-breathers, and more.
From March 18 thru March 24, local businesses will offer deals and specials as part of a weeklong "Fete du Nain." Here's an initial list of offerings, with more information available at

Fourteen East (15 E. Kirby, Detroit): Drink specials "Hellfire Mocha" and "Snow Angel Hot Chocolate," with a portion of proceeds supporting the Marche.

Avalon International Breads (422 W. Willis St., Detroit): Discount of 25 percent off. Specials include Velour Rouge Whoopie Pies, Cherries Jubilee Croissant, and Mama Mia Focaccia, plus "a few delicious devilish menu features."  

Blick Art Materials (4501 Woodward Ave., Detroit): Mention the Nain and get 20 percent off. You can also register to win a Nain Prize Pack filled with great Nain inspired items.

Detroit Shipping Co. (474 Peterboro St., Detroit): Drink specials all day during Marche du Nain Rouge, as well as live music and entertainment from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. including the Bananacondas and Kelsie Cork & The Swigs, and DJ sets from DJ Jaco, Lady SSE, and Marcie Bolen.

Founder's Detroit (456 Charlotte St., Detroit): Party begins at 11 a.m. with red beers, grill specials on the patio, music from the the Aston Neighborhood Pleasure Club, and more.

Honest John’s (488 Selden St., Detroit): $8 Valentine Bloody Mary's and mini High Lifes all week long.

Mario’s Detroit (4222 Second Ave., Detroit): $5 Irish Coffees and $5 Bloody Marys during the Marche.

Selden Standard (3921 Second Ave., Detroit): Food and cocktail specials during the Marche.

Traffic Jam and Snug (511 W. Canfield St., Detroit): Crawfish boil, King Cake, “Tasmanian Red” beer, and more.

Treat Dreams (4160 Cass Ave., Detroit): Spicy hot chocolate and Mexican chocolate ice cream on Sunday.

Union Street (4145 Woodward Ave., Detroit): Nain-inspired special menu with stuffed peppers, gumbo, jalapeño cornbread, red devil torte, and more. On Sunday, drink specials include $1 Hamms and a Bloody Mary bar.

WILL Leather Goods (4120 Second Ave., Detroit): Discount of 15 percent on Sunday, free coffee. 

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