Thornetta Davis invited me to an event that captured how Detroit is Different for her “Around Detroit” feature. I attended the Marche Du Nain Rouge 2015 Parade with Thornetta Davis and her husband, James Anderson, on Sunday March 22, 2015.
The Marche Du Nain Rouge Parade is an event that launched in 2012 in recognition of a 300 year old myth. Legend has it that in 1701 French Colonist for the Detroit territory Antoine de le Cadillac met a fortune teller who warned him to beware of the Nain Rouge. Nain Rouge is French for red devil, and is thought to be representative of Cadillac’s personal faults and ambitions.
The Marche Du Nain Rouge is a parade that takes this concept to rid the Detroit of that very same “Devil”.
Thousands of Metro-Detroiters gathered in Detroit’s Midtown district to parade down Second Ave. The parade was full of music; guitar bands, brass bands, and boom boxes played the sounds of a joyous occasion. The parade is reminiscent of the Jazz funerals generally held in New Orleans. The costumes worn by participants were unique, their make-up was colorful, and many people danced along with the parade. I felt like I was in the second-line on Bourbon Street.
The parade was led by a float with the “Red Devil”. The float had an actor atop a car playing the role of the Nain Rouge. The car, which led the parade, looked like something from Mad Max. The parade was closed by a mix of butterflies which represent the transformation of Detroit (shout out to my friend and excellent dancer/instructor Tene from the House of Bastet who was a butterfly). All negative images, thoughts, and energy from the past year are thought to be released with the butterflies, freeing Detroiters from the devilish past and launching them into the new year, lighter than before.