Sunday, March 22, 2015

I helped to oust the Nain Rouge from Detroit, let the city and region prosper for another year.

I was among the thousands of Metro Detroit denizens that helped to oust the Nain Rouge from
Detroit on Sunday.
No I didn’t have a physical interaction with the little devil, but myself, a couple of friends and thousands of others banded together, marched down the street and tossed the vile creature out of the city.
SLIDESHOW: Photos from 2015 Marche Du Nain Rouge
That’s part of what makes this region great, fantastic local events that simply couldn’t happen elsewhere. The Nain Rouge is very much a regional folk tale, people outside of Michigan have rarely heard of him.
I’ve lived in Michigan most of my life, and until last March, I’d never heard of him. Over the course of the year I’ve done some research, written a couple of stories about a novel and a comic book released by Josef Bastian about the creature and decided that I just had to take part in the tradition of escorting the creature from the city.
During this year’s parade, a couple that had met at the parade in a previous year got engaged. The surprise engagement was worked into the story telling to help oust the evil spirit from the city and welcome in good tidings for another year.
If you haven’t checked out the parade before, it’s definitely worth the time next year.
What is the Nain Rouge?

The name is French for “red dwarf” or “red gnome.” The myth is thought to have it’s origins in Normandy, but rose to infamy in Detroit before the city was even founded.
The creature is said to be a “harbinger of doom,” and appears to people prior to major disasters in the history of the city.
The legend says the Nain Rouge was a protector of the lands that Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit was eventually founded on in 1701. The founder’s, including Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac and 51 others allegedly were rude to creature and forcibly removed it from the confines of the fort. That sleight caused the creature to curse them all, and their descendents.

The creature allegedly attacked Cadillac when it was being removed from the fort, that scene in a slightly altered version is depicted in the graphic novel.
According to “documented sightings” the Nain Rouge is about the size of a child. It has red skin and is almost always wearing red or black boots and has been described as having “blazing” red eyes and rotten teeth.
That is similar to how Bastian and illustrator Patrick McEvoy depict him in the graphic novel.
Sightings in history
Bastian said the character, which had been largely forgotten about until about five years ago, has popped up several times in the last 300 years.
After being tossed out of Detroit in 1701, the creature didn’t appear again until July 30, 1763, the night before the Battle of Bloody Run. During the battle 58 soldiers were killed by Native Americans. The creature was allegedly sighted dancing on the banks of the Detroit River, which ran red with blood for days following the battle.
In 1805 the creature was sighted by several people in the days leading up to the fire that destroyed most of the city.
Gen. William Huff filed a report about a “dwarf attack” just prior to surrendering during the War of 1812.
In 1872 reports in the Detroit Free Press talk of a creature that had “"blood-red eyes, long teeth and rattling hoofs,” that appeared to Jane Dacy, a resident who suddenly became bed-ridden.

There were a handful of other reported sightings happening days or even hours prior to some of the worst events in the city’s history.
In 1967, the day before the famous 12th Street Riot the Nain Rouge is said to have appeared and again in 1976 when a pair of utility workers allegedly saw the creature just before a large ice and snow storm.
Only one reported sighting has happened in the last 20 years, though the creature has remained a source of local folklore.

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