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.

2017 Marche du Nain Rouge is this Sunday!

Marche du Nain Rouge, photo by Joel Williams

My favorite event of the year appears to have snuck up on me! The 2017 Marche du Nain Rouge takes place in Detroit this Sunday (March 26th) at noon at the corner of Cass and Canfield (parade departs at 1 PM). The organizers have some hints about what’s in store for one of Michigan’s quirkiest parades:

The start of the 8th annual Marche du Nain Rouge on Sunday, March 26, 2017, promises to be the most epic parade launch yet. Will the Nain Rouge’s dastardly plan for squelching city pride involve an overly complicated scheme with oversized props and ridiculous costumes? Come find out!

The annual parade through Midtown shows of Detroit pride in the face of the city’s oldest nemesis, the scheming doomsayer, the Nain Rouge. More than 6,000 people are expected to attend this year’s parade, featuring costumes, marching bands, dancers, tricked out cars, and more.

Caribbean Mardi Gras Productions will return with all of its feathers, sparkles and dancers, ready to accompany their Pans of Joy steel drum band. And our friends at Gabriel Brass Band will return to lead the Marche with their authentic New Orleans second-line sound.

In addition to whatever madness the Nain has concocted, the cockroach car from the past couple years will return, bringing with it several other Art Cars, including a new “Bubblemobile” out of Southwest Detroit, and Scrubby Bubble, which has represented Detroit at the Annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada. Also, we’re asking cosplayers to come out for the parade and a costume contest at the afterparty. (at the Detroit Masonic Temple)

If that sounds like fun, get more info about the Marche at marchedunainrouge.com and be sure to follow them on Facebook.  You can read all about the legend of the Red Dwarf of Detroit at Absolute Michigan.

View Joel’s photo from the 2015 March bigger and see more in his Marche du Nain Rouge 2015 slideshow.

Detroit’s annual Marche du Nain Rouge

Nain Regards the Parade

The Red Dwarf regards the Parade, photo by Kate Sassak

Kate Sassak took today’s photo back in 2014 as the official photographer of the event. In a photo-packed article on her website she writes:

One of the coolest events in the City of Detroit is the Marche Du Nain Rouge. Every year, on the Sunday after the Vernal Equinox, Detroiters gather in Cass Park to say “Eff you!” to the Red Devil. The Marche is a huge Mardi Gras style party and parade with a fire breathing dragon, music and outlandish costumes. People from all over the city come together to “banish” the Nain and celebrate all the good things happening in the City of Detroit.

The Marche du Nain Rouge is an annual, symbolic celebration of the liberation of Detroit from the Nain Rouge (Red Dwarf), a supernatural imp who has purportedly plagued the city since at least its founding. The celebration takes place this Sunday (March 20, 1-3 PM) and you can get all the details and lots of great photos at from the Marche du Nain Rouge website. Also be sure to check out the story of the Nain Rouge on Absolute Michigan.

See more more in Kate’s Marche du Nain Rouge photo gallery and stay tuned as she is once again photographing in 2016! Definitely follow both Kate Sassak Photography and the Marche du Nain Rouge on Facebook for the latest.

La Marche du Nain Rouge

Ms Nain Rouge

Detroit MI, photo by billyvoo

Over 300 years ago, around the same time the city of Detroit was founded, an evil was discovered in and around the city. An evil that has plagued the people and the city, and even wrecked havoc upon the founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. This ‘evil’ was said to have been a Nain Rouge, other wise known as the “red dwarf of Detroit.”
~La Marche du Nain Rouge

La Marche du Nain Rouge is held every year on the Sunday following the spring equinox. That’s Sunday March 24, 2013, and they explain:

La Marche du Nain Rouge is an annual Detroit tradition that purportedly dates back to shortly after the city’s founding by the French in 1701. Annually held on the Sunday closest to the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, it is parade and street theater similar in sensibility to Mardi Gras and other Carnival celebrations. However the impetus for La Marche is different.

La Marche drives Le Nain Rouge (The Red Dwarf) out of Detroit, preventing its evil spirit from plaguing the people of the city for the rest of the year. By forcing Le Nain Rouge from the city (and into the spirit plane), Le Nain is banished, transforming Detroiters’ fears and doubts into the hopes of new life and the coming Spring season.

Tradition holds that a citizen of Detroit dresses up as Le Nain Rouge, temporarily embodying its spirit, wearing a mask to conceal identity. As Le Nain Rouge, this person accepts responsibility for leading people through the streets of Detroit to La Marche’s final destination.

Read on for more including pictures and definitely head over to Absolute Michigan to learn much more about one of Michigan’s spookiest stories, Nain Rouge: The Red Dwarf of Detroit.

Billy took this in March of 2011 at the 300th anniversary of La Marche. See it bigger and see more in his La Marche du Nain Rouge slideshow and also check out billyvoo.com.

More portraits on Michigan in Pictures.