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Michigan: Full of monsters and mysteries

Could a bad-tempered dwarf be responsible for the City of Detroit's woes?

The legend of the Nain Rouge, or Red Dwarf, suggests so.

Theatre Bizarre actors showed up in costume for the 2014 Marche du Nain Rouge. Theatre Bizarre actors attend the 2014 Marche du Nain Rouge in Detroit. (Photo: Chris Betea/Special to Detroit Free Press)

The nasty Nain Rouge reportedly is a small creature with fur boots and bad teeth. He may have been the first mugger in Detroit, said to have attacked the city's first white settler, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, in 1701. He's said to have placed a curse on the Frenchman, who died penniless after returning to his homeland.

The Nain Rouge also reportedly was seen before a bloody 1763 battle between Native Americans and the British, before an 1805 citywide fire and during the War of 1812.

Sightings continued through the 19th and 20th century, and the mean beast is said to have been seen before the 1967 riots.

Since 2010, Detroiters have been staging a parade and celebration in March in the Midtown/Cass Corridor neighborhood known as "Le Marche du Nain Rouge." Its purpose: to ritually exorcise the ill-tempered beast. Its newfound celebrity also includes having a red wine and a local beer named after it.

"At Detroit’s worst moments," reads a history created by the organizers of Le Marche du Nain Rouge. "the Nain has been there, cackling or taunting the city’s residents."

(2016 © Lansing State Journal)