Merry Detroit mob chases Nain Rouge through Cass Corridor, burns him to a crisp

If there's anything freaky or funky in your closet, someone was likely wearing something funkier or freakier than that at the Marche du Nain Rouge on Sunday. This was the first re-installment of the legendary burning of the red dwarf, Le Nain Rouge, whose ominous presence is said to have been a harbinger of bad things in this city for 300 years. It was a bit surreal, but it was also a blast.

Midtowner and law student Francis Grunow helped organize the march, which drew about 300 people to the streets of the Cass Corridor. The Marche du Nain Rouge started with a rousing call to battle outside the newly renovated Third Street bar, then turned down Cass to the Temple Bar and on to Cass Park. The Nain himself dared to show, at first prancing and taunting the crowd from atop Scott Lowell's newly renovated Beethoven Apartments. From there, the march was led by the smartly uniformed, merry pranksters, the Detroit Party Marching Band.

What does one wear to a Nain Rouge march? The official word was to dress for battle, but if this were the Army there would be a lot to not ask nor tell about. We saw sombreros adorned with taxidermied squirrels, motorbike helmets, a Cookie Monster hat, top hats, and a "bobby" style police hat. There were feathers everywhere -- on hairdos, boas and masks. There were military costumes, Medieval gowns, ghosts, devils, and even a Mouseketeer. Detroit's freak flag was proudly flying.

Wearing gold disco hats, the Linn City Bird siblings Andy and Emily passed out red beads to the crowd, which included too many dogs and kids to count.

Midpoint in the walk, the crowd passed a small group of protesters, who held signs in support of the Nain, pleading with the crowd to not blame the Nain. Still, the crowd carried on. At Cass Park, revelers burned their effigies of the Nain and cheered for a new vision of Detroit. Then they headed to the Temple Bar for a toast.

Before the event, Grunow said he'd have called 100 marchers success. This obviously exceeded expectations.

So, until next spring, beware the Nain Rouge and enjoy these photos from Marvin Shaouni. And as the spring equinox approaches in 2011, be prepared to drive him out once more.
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