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Back and bigger than ever, the Marche du Nain Rouge drives Detroit to seek better days

Nain Rouge Detroit

Oh, sweet Nain Rouge. How we love to hate you. Because this year’s fourth annual festival, parade and 5K run has more parties, more marching and more loathing that ever before.

RunduNainRouge_2013The Marche du Nain Rouge has become an all-day affair this year, starting at 11 a.m. Sunday, March 24, with the inaugural Run Du Nain Rouge, organized by the folks at Tour de Troit. It will involve family-friendly (and some not-so-kid-friendly activities) reveling until 7 p.m. And chances are things will roll well into the night hours, something the Nain probably would hate. So let’s do it.

Another newcomer to the festivities is the Detroit Bus Company, which will schlep people in from the suburbs (ok, Ferndale) to participate. In its first year, the Marche brought about 400 or so people with it. This year, I’m thinking it could easily top 4,000.

The idea behind this stellar event is to celebrate the banishment of the “Nain Rouge,” or Red Drawf, says organizer Peter Van Dyke. According to legend, the Nain has taunted and tormented the city for more than 300 years. Then, in 2010, he showed up in person – an ugly red-faced manifestation, nattily dressed yet spewing vile poison for all to hear.

So here’s how the day will go down. If you’ve got the legs for it, you can join the Run, which starts at 11 a.m. at the corner of Cass and Canfield (501 W. Canfield Street, to be exact). You’ve got to sign up by March 15, so get on this one, stat. It will cost $35 and you get a t-shirt. But be forewarned: The top 15 runners receive a prize from City Bird; the slowest 10 will receive a “gift” from the Nain himself. I’m guessing it will be drippy or moist in some way. Ugh.

The official start is 1 p.m. for the Marche, right outside Traffic Jam & Snug’s parking lot. There will be an opening ceremony where the Nain typically acts cocky, the crowd crows back and everyone gets rowdy and raucous. This is a great place to see the wild costumes that people will wear, giving this event is Mardi Gras flair. Not only are you banishing the Nain, you also are welcoming spring so you might as well look hot as hell.

If you’re late to the party, head down Cass Avenue. Listen for the Detroit Party Marching Band, who will lead the grand group down the street. There will be community groups, kids, couples, protestors and more. Watch out so you won’t get run over by the chariots, constructed at home and representing Detroit’s neighborhoods in fine style.

Everything lands on Temple Street, where there will be beer, bar-be-cue and more. Everyone shuffles around, watching the shows of magic and merriment. And there will be at least three post-parties in the area, including those at Fierce Hot Mess at Jumbos; Haute to Death at the Temple Bar; and, Nothing Elegant at the Old Miami.

Nain photoAnd we’ve gotta give some love to the 2013 Marche du Nain Rouge sponsors. This year’s list includes some larger names and some newcomers. But they all have Detroit in their hearts and the Nain on their mind. They are: Midtown Detroit, Inc.; Colin Hubbell Memorial Fund; Canine to Five Detroit Dog Daycare; Nora; New Solutions Group; Universal Macomb Ambulance; O’Connor Real Estate and Development; Yelp; Bronx Bar; Motor City Brewing Works; Traffic Jam & Snug; Slows to Go; Giffels Webster Engineers; Plante Moran; Miller Canfield; Velocity Cow; and CANNING Communications.

About a week ago, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing encouraged the city and suburbs at the Detroit Policy Conference to start protesting the protestors. To care about what the city decides at its meetings and to want to change the pattern of destructiveness and divisiveness. Attending the Marche does that, and so much more.

It is a glorious moment to show your affection for Detroit, to spend some money at the retailers and restaurants who are giving their all. These folks have been here for decades (Traffic Jam) or just a few months (Nora). But they all want the best for the city – and the Nain in the form of this event is the best. It’s fun, flashy and fabulous. I cannot wait.

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