On the first Sunday of spring, Detroiters decked out in their finest gathered to cast out the city's legendary "red dwarf."
The third annual "Marche Du Nain Rouge" brought more than 2,000 revelers to the Cass Corridor, meeting in the parking lot in front of Motor City Brewing Works at 2nd Avenue and West Canfield. They made a slow and festive march down to the Masonic Temple after the "nain" briefly appeared above the crowd on a crane, taunting revelers with signs reading "I'm back" and "Losers."
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The nain rouge, French for red dwarf, is a mythical creature who haunts and terrorizes the city -- at least according to legend. The red dwarf has had it out for Detroit for several hundred years.
The Marche to banish the dwarf is modern twist on an old tradition. Started in 2010, organizers say it's meant to kick out the city's bad and celebrate spring. According to their website:
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.
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.
Le Nain Rouge (the Red Dwarf) is a malevolent spirit that has cursed generations of Detroiters. It often appears as an impish dwarf, with gnarled red features, glowing eyes, rotting teeth and matted fur. Le Nain’s appearance seems to foretell the misfortune of whoever sees it, or more generally the misfortune of the city as a whole.
The first recorded sighting of Le Nain Rouge occurred when Detroit founder Antoine Laumet de la Mothe Cadillac took a stroll with his wife through the Royal Garden just outside Fort Pontchartrain’s walls. Le Nain crossed Cadillac’s path, shrieking at Cadillac as if to confront him. In response Cadillac took his cane to Le Nain and drove it off. As Le Nain retreated, it cursed Cadillac. There have been numerous sightings since.
While the brightly-dressed attendees were in spirited moods, helped along by brown-bagged beer, it wouldn't be a Detroit event without a political angle. In front of the Masonic Temple, the red dwarf announced himself as the newest candidate for emergency manager, saying he would take over Detroit and planned to run the city into the ground.
"I'm about to dismantle your democracy," he said, "because too many of you don't care, don't vote and don't speak out."
The dwarf's assertion was met with a wave of booing and his banishment. The nain's demise was met with cheers for Detroit and renewed partying.
While the red dwarf's banishment might not fix the city's deficit, it seems appropriate to cast out an evil spirit. Good riddance, dwarf! We'll see you next spring.
Check out images of the red dwarf and his banishers at this year's Le Marche Du Nain Rouge: