HISTORY

THE OFFICIAL LEGEND OF LE MARCHE DU NAIN ROUGE

Way back in 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac – the legendary founder of Detroit – met a fortune-teller. He’d been having dreams, you see, of a red devil. This fortune-teller warned Cadillac: The devil he’d dreamt of was the Nain Rouge, a little red imp that embodied his ambition, his anger, his pride and his envy – everything that held Cadillac back. And further, the Nain was the harbinger of doom. If Cadillac chose to settle near the straits between Michigan and Ontario, well, it might pay off someday, the fortune-teller said. But it would be a long, uphill slog fraught with setbacks.

It was sound counsel, but when Cadillac encountered the Nain Rouge in person, things didn’t go so well. The Nain taunted Cadillac mercilessly, and the fiery Cadillac chased the red devil away with a stick. Courage, even in the face of common sense, and willingness to endure whatever comes, are henceforth defining characteristics of denizens of the city that Cadillac went on to establish: Detroit.

(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.)

Cadillac might have left the New World, but the Nain Rouge was here to stay. And at Detroit’s worst moments, the Nain has been seen often cackling or taunting the city’s residents. And so for 300 years, Detroiters have memorialized not just Cadillac’s actions, but his willingness to persevere and hope for better things, combined with the determination to rise from the ashes.

 

In 1701, legendary founder of Detroit Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac met a fortune-teller, who warned him to beware of the Nain Rouge, a red devil that had appeared to Cadillac in a drean. She warned him 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. If Cadillac chose to settle near the straits between Michigan and Ontario, the fortuneteller said, it might pay off one day, but it would be a long uphill slog fraught with setbacks.

Despite this sound counsel, when Cadillac first saw the fiend in person, the Nain taunted him mercilessly and Cadillac chased the red devil away with a stick. Courage, even  in the face of common sense, and willingness to endure whatever comes, are henceforth defining characteristics of denizens of the city that Cadillac went on to establish: Detroit.

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.

Unfortunately, on such occasions, the Nain Rouge manifests,  revealing itself to revelers, taunting them by highlighting all of its evil accomplishments and plans to bring the city down. (Just in case, revelers are advised to come in disguise, so the Nain can’t exact revenge.)

On these occasions, a struggle ensues – the Nain Rouge taunts revelers and challenges them to join him in Cass Park, where he’ll reveal his ultimate plan for the city’s demise. The epic confrontation culminates in a decisive moment – the future of the city hinges on the whether the gathered Detroiters can overwhelm the Nain Rouge’s dastardly plans with their hope for better things, or whether the Nain manages to hold the city back once again. So far, our track record is pretty good – but the Nain’s power is no joke.

So we need your help. Please join us for a celebration of Detroit – and should the Nain Rouge appear, support our city against the this wretched red devil, the embodiment of everything that holds us back.

With your help, just like in years past, the thing that tries to thwart us will discover this city is not dead. This city will not give up. This city has a bright future.