Partying with the Dwarf or Why Detroit Loves the Nain Rouge

Dear Nain Rouge:

Thanks for showing your ugly mug Sunday so we could kick you out. And, if I might be presumptuous, you look good in red.

May I also say you throw a mighty fine banishment party. There was everything that was promised: a parade, chariots, music and beer. The protestors returned, some even noting that “RoboCop loves the Nain Rouge.”

But it was the unexpected touches – the Elmo effigy, the walking stuffed-animal man, the guy wearing the Joe Louis fist, the blow torches burning bright – that really rocked Cass Park. And I loved your Secret Service guy. Very VIP.

And if the crowd was an indication, the Marche du Nain Rouge 2011 was an unmitigated success. I’d say the parade was far grander than the previous year’s, and I saw upwards of 500 people milling about when all was said and done. Either you’re doing a better job publicizing yourself, or people must really want to reclaim Detroit for good.

Let me gush a little here. Nain, it was amazing to see so many spirited people in the city. There were young families, couples, groups of friends. There were dog walkers, hangers oners, partiers. It was a mish-mash of young and old, the shocked and the shocking. For every bemused face there was a painted one. It was a feast for the eyes if you love goth, gleeful mischief and general foolishness. Where else can you see someone dressed up like a Virgin Mary in a bathtub? It truly felt like a Detroit Marti Gras, and the city could use some of that kind of fun.

This may be the best thing I’ve seen come into the city in recent years – a reason to celebrate, a reason to hang out and even – dare I say it? – move into the city. A way to reclaim what had been neglected. A challenge to anyone who thinks no one cares if Cass Park or Cass Avenue or any square inch of Detroit is left vacant. A moment to merchandise (love the vintage style felt pennants), to profit from sticking it out and caring about old architecture, a city with good bones, lots of bad decisions and plenty of bad luck.

So, dearest Dwarf, thanks for having a sense of humor. Sure, you could have said, “One Marche was enough.” But you put on your big-boy pants and let the city dwellers drag you back in again. It was the right choice…The city needs more parties, more good times, more ballroom dresses at 1 p.m. in the afternoon. And to leave in a Cadillac? How Detroit.

Let me agree with the Masonic Temple when I say: I’m a believer, too. I believe in you, Nain. I believe you may have shifted the city’s fates. Your sightings used to inspire fear. Now, seeing you makes me feel that everything – at least for a few city blocks – is going to be all right.

Kudos to the organizers for getting the city involved as well. It was good to have everyone on the same page. It makes debates about the RoboCop statue seem like a faint memory, an argument that never happened. If this project can happen, and the results can be so unexpectedly delightful, then perhaps the goofy Tin Man could bring a collective smile to the city. I’m just saying…

(As an aside, apologies to anyone my 5-year-old son pointed and laughed at today. Can you blame him? The costumes, makeup and fake mammary glands were pretty hilarious.)

Maybe the Nain should be given a reprieve to return in 2012 – banishing him is just too much fun.

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