Join the Golden Boy at the annual Marche du Nain Rouge

All Hail the Golden Boy!, photo by Andrew McFarlane

I’ve featured the annual Marche du Nain Rouge for years on Michigan in Pictures, but last year was the first time I ever attended. Even on a cold & rainy day, thousands of people turned out for what is unquestionably one of the coolest parades I’ve ever been a part of. My favorite parade group was certainly these folks, who would loudly intone “All hail the Golden Boy” as the walked.

The Marche du Nain Rouge takes place in two weeks – Sunday, March 25, 2018 along the Cass Corridor in Detroit. You can get all the details about the Marche du Nain Rouge on Facebook and read more about this incredible event & the chilling tales of the Red Dwarf of Detroit on Absolute Michigan.

I was more wandering with the parade than photographing, but you can see a lot more including videos in my 2017 Marche du Nain Rouge set on Flickr!

History of the Nain Rouge (courtesy the Marche du Nain Rouge)

In 1701, legendary founder of Detroit Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac met a fortune-teller, who warned him to beware of the Nain Rouge, the “Red Dwarf” who appeared to Cadillac in a dream. She warned Cadillac that the the little red imp is the embodiment of his ambition, anger, pride, envy — everything that held him back. The Nain Rouge, she told him, is the harbinger of doom. However, when Cadillac first saw the fiend in person, the Nain taunted him mercilessly and Cadillac chased the Nain away with a stick.

Unfortunately, the fortune turned out to be true and Cadillac died penniless after he left Detroit for France. The city he founded, however, fared better, endured and prospered (mostly), against the fiendish efforts of the Nain Rouge.

For 300 years, Detroiters memorialized Cadillac’s actions and willingness to persevere and hope for better things, combined with the determination to rise from the ashes. At Detroit’s worst moments, the Nain has been there, cackling or taunting the city’s residents. And so every year, Detroiters celebrate liberation from the Nain, a new beginning, and whatever is good and working in the city in a spring festival for the good and betterment of the city of Detroit.

Looking back … and forward to the Detroit movie

Sonya Reese, photo by Noah Stephens

“We lost a lot of businesses and homes. [The riots] had a negative impact on the black race.”
– Fiat Chrysler Automobiles employee Sonya Reese

I just finished an incredibly rewarding week volunteering for the Traverse City Film Festival. One of the many films that I did not see is Detroit by Mark Boal & Katherine Bigelow that opens tomorrow (Aug 4). The trailer (below) looks amazing, and Bigelow is still the only woman to win an Oscar for Best Director.

Photographer Noah Stephens has been featured before for his work in the People of Detroit series. He was hired by the film to document the people and landscape as they are 50 years after the Detroit riots of 1967.

The photo shows Fiat Chrysler Automobiles employee Sonya Reese. Sonya and her daughter Ivy were interviewed and photographed in Gordon Playground. The playground was built on the site of the blind pig where the 1967 riot began. The park was remodeled in June 2017. The park is located on the precipice of prosperity. To the east are the mansions of the beautiful Boston-Edison historic district. To the west is the Dexter Bar.

More photos at The People of Detroit: 50 Years Later and see more of Noah’s work (and hire him)at noahstephens.com.

S.S. Aquamara: The Great Lakes’ Largest Liner

aquarama-unloading-detroit

Aquamara unloading in Detroit, courtesy Marine Historical Society of Detroit

The S.S. Aquarama was the largest passenger ship ever to operate in the Great Lakes. We’ll head to Ohio (gasp) for this article on the Aquamara from Cleveland Historical:

The Aquarama began its life in 1945 as a transoceanic troop carrier called the Marine Star: 520 feet and 12,733 tons. It made only one Atlantic Ocean trip before combat ceased. Eight years later, the ship was purchased by Detroit’s Sand Products Company and taken to Muskegon, Michigan, where it underwent an $8 million, two-year conversion, and was reborn as a nine-deck luxury-class ferry capable of carrying 2,500 passengers and 160 cars. The rechristened Aquarama also touted five bars, four restaurants, two dance floors, a movie theater, a television theater, and a playroom. Special events often were held in conjunction with day or evening cruises. For example, on June 10, 1962, passengers were treated to a style show from Lane Bryant’s Tall Girl Department. The next month, evening cruisers on the Aquarama could watch the Miss World finals. Regular shipboard entertainment included musical performances, dancing, marionette shows, games, and contests.

The cruise portion of the ship’s life actually began in 1955, with tours to various Great Lakes ports and a brief stint as a “floating amusement palace” docked along Chicago’s Navy Pier. Soon after, service began focusing solely on runs between Cleveland and Detroit: six hours “door to door” with Cleveland-based passengers embarking in the morning from (and returning in late evening to) the West 3rd Street pier. For the next six years, the Aquarama was extremely popular but never profitable. Part of the problem may have been frequent “incidents”: One summer, the Aquarama backed into a seawall. A year later, it hit a dock in Cleveland. A week after that, it banged into a Detroit dock, damaging a warehouse. Alcohol issues also were recurrent: Accusations included untaxed booze and liquor sold in Ohio waters on Sunday. Still, the ship’s most likely death knell was simply high operating costs.

The Aquarama made its last trip on September 4, 1962. It then was towed back to where it had been rebuilt–Muskegon, Michigan, ostensibly to continue as cruise vessel. Unfortunately, a prohibitively large dredging investment was needed to accommodate the harbor. The Aquarama thus sat dockside—residing (but not operating) later in Sarnia, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, where entrepreneurs hoped in vain to convert it to a floating casino. In 2007 the Aquarama was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, where it was broken up for scrap.

This photo from Boatnerd shows the Aquarama unloading passengers from Cleveland at Detroit’s city park next to the J.W. Westcott Co. dock, 1963. Another view.  Hartland Smith, William Hoey collection. More pics at Boatnerd.com.

Read more about the Aquamara at Wikipedia.

Lift Off: Movement Detroit Edition

Lift Off 197/365, photo by Vishal Patel

I hope everyone is ready for the launch of summer 2017. Given the tension in the world, I’ve got a feeling it will be memorable. Hopefully not in a bad way but I admit, I worry.

If you’re looking for a new and fun way to kick off the summer, consider the Movement Electronic Music Festival this Saturday – Monday (May 27-29) in downtown Detroit. It takes place every Memorial Day weekend in the birthplace of Techno music with 6 stages and over 100 acts.

View the photo bigger and see more in Vishal’s Project 365 slideshow.

View from the Smithy at Greenfield Village

Americana N°2, photo by Remus Roman

As we’re gearing up for summer, it’s a great time to think about Michigan’s many incredible museums. One of the coolest is Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. They explain that the origins of Greenfield Village were with Henry Ford himself. His obsession to recreate his childhood home was a resounding success and:

…after several other restorations of buildings at their original sites, he began looking to create a village that would represent the early days of America up to the present. Working with Ford Motor Company draftsman and architect Edward L. Cutler, Ford began laying out plans for Greenfield Village.

It wasn’t meant to represent any specific place in the United States, or even serve as a particular town – Ford created Greenfield Village primarily from buildings that he had purchased and moved to the site, organizing them around a village green with a courthouse, a town hall, a church, a store, an inn and a school. He placed homes along a road beyond the green. He brought industrial buildings, such as carding mills, sawmills and gristmills to the village and made them operate.

Today, Greenfield Village is organized into seven historic districts, with real working farms, a glassblowing shop, a pottery shop and more…so that, just like Henry Ford when he surveyed his preserved birthplace, you, too, can be transported to another place and time to learn about the ordinary and extraordinary people who shaped America.

Click through for a whole lot more.

View this photo of the Smithy at Greenfield Village background bigilicious, see more in Remy’s slideshow, and also at remyroman.com.

Lots more history & museums on Michigan in Pictures.

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2file112, photo by ansonredford

This stunning photo of the Detroit skyline was taken back in February and is the latest cover on the Michigan in Pictures Facebook.

View it bigger and see more in Donald’s Detroit slideshow.

Tons more Detroit photos on Michigan in Pictures.

Flowermagheddeon: Flower Day May 21, 2017 at Eastern Market

Flower Day at Eastern Market, photo by Eastern Market Corporation

Gardeners who would like to visit Detroit, please allow me to suggest one of the coolest places to go next weekend: Eastern Market’s annual Flower Day on Sunday, May 22 2017:

Flower Day takes place every year on the Sunday after Mother’s Day and has been a time-honored tradition of Eastern Market since 1967. Growers offer a wide variety of flowers at a great value so we recommend you come early for the best selection!

This special day is made possible through our partnership with the Metropolitan Detroit Flower Growers Association. MDFGA members arrive every year from Michigan, Ontario, and neighboring states. They share 15 acres of the heartiest varieties of flowers for this region and they’re ready to share the best strategies of how to help their flora thrive.

We also offer free convenient parcel pickups so you can explore the market throughout the day without being attached to your flats of flowers.

They direct you to their Facebook event for updates. View the photo bigger on Facebook and see lots more in Eastern Market’s 50th Annual Flower Day gallery.

PS: Thanks Brad Bennett for Flowermagheddeon – perfect word!!

PPS: As always, there will be all kinds of food & farm products there too!!