Antoinette: Growing up, I lived in the heart of Uptown in a place called Cabbage Alley. It was a one block long neighborhood right off of Danneel where Phillip Park is located now. They actually bought us out to build the park. We lived right next door to where everybody got their shoes dyed for the second line, which was Swan’s Shoe Shop. My grandparents lived at 2916 General Taylor; it’s our family home. Devastation, Unknown Steppers, and Eastern Twelve all formed out of that property there.

As a little girl, second lines would leave Gertrude Geddes Willis and pass right there on Phillip. We always followed because my grandfather, father, uncles—everybody—was a part of it. My grandad, Wallace Patterson, Sr., was the head roaster for Luzianne Coffee. He always had coffee, tea, and peanut butter. Back in the early 60s, he was with the Young Men Olympians with men like Holy Ghost, Norman Dixon, Alfred Carter. My grandmother, Lilly Frank Patterson—who we all called M’dear—nurtured a lot of people. She fed the neighborhood and was part of second lines herself with the Second Line Jammers. My grandfather stayed a member of the Young Men Olympians all the way up until the time of his death in 2003. The Young Men Olympians funeralized him. He had always said, “If I ever leave here before you guys, I want you to just dance the day away.” We’re not just dancing. We’re rejoicing and giving him a home going celebration. It was bittersweet, but I got through it. Now, my father in not an active member but he’s still part of Young Men Olympians. Due to his health condition, he no longer parades.

Sometimes we second lined six hours in a day. I became a member of the Fun Lovers as well as Second Line Jammers, and in my early adult years, I branched out with Devastating Ladies. M’dear would push me. She would stand up there and dance, “Oh no, you have to do it this way!”

“Oh no, you have to wear your clothes this way!”

She was pounding it into me. And I am known as the Bling Queen. I’m always blinging. M’dear and my Aunt Diane started telling me, “Well, you’re doing everything. Why don’t you form your own club?”

I told them, “I don’t have the time. I’m working three jobs.” I was working as a civilian secretary for Naval Support activity. I was supervisor for Wendy’s on St. Charles Avenue as well as 7-Eleven. On weekends, I worked for a parking garage company.

She said, “You know, I’ll tell you what. I am going to challenge you. If you were to form your own club, I will put up the first $500.” And she did. In 2003, we paraded under Undefeated Divas. And from that point on, it pretty much prospered. M’dear passed the torch down to me, and I am the only one still holding that torch. It was a joy, an honor, and I felt privileged that my grandmother was able to see what she had started. Every year, she would be there to watch it. When M’dear met my husband, Kevin, that became her son. I think she forgot about me.


Kevin: I always liked the second lines, but we didn’t have nobody in that situation. People like my daughter, Kenaria, she’s into it cause we’re into it. Nobody in my family was ever into it so we couldn’t do something like that. I was raised in the Fifth Ward by my grandmother, Mercedes Bell. She was a beautician.

Kevin Devezin, Undefeated Divas, Gents and Kids Social and Pleasure Club parade
Kevin Devezin, Undefeated Divas, Gents and Kids Social and Pleasure Club parade; 2017; by and courtesy of MJ Mastrogiovanni


Antoinette: A licensed beautician. And she taught as well at Katy’s Beauty College.

Kevin: Back in those days, they didn’t have as many second lines as they have now. Do you recall the ones?

Antoinette: Tremé Sports, Money Wasters, Jolly Bunch.

Undefeated Gents finery
Undefeated Gents finery; 2016; by and courtesy of MJ Mastrogiovanni

Kevin: Didn’t know nothing about them, but we would always go to the parades. And they always had Super Sundays with the second line and the Indians so we would go to that. In the late 1990s, early 2000s, we had the club in the Iberville Project club called Ordinary Guys, but we call it “OGs.” I was connected to the organization with cousins and good friends. We did dances, organized back-to-school give-aways and picnics for kids, and fed the homeless and elderly people. Every evening after school we would have little snacks for the kid. When a holiday came up, we’d boil and grill, and have activities for them to do. We also had voter registration, and then we had the First District police involved.

Everything we did, we second lined around the project, and I was trying to get that group to organize a parade. I was in the process of finding out information about second line. As a matter of fact, the first person I talked to was Joseph “Joe Black” Baker. He had given me the stuff, the paperwork we needed. Real good people. But once I met Antoinette, that’s when I really got into the second line.

Antoinette: We met at a meeting at Armstrong Park in 2004. We were scheduled to do Jazz in the Park where both of us were vendors. He had invited me over. He says, “Love at first sight.”

Kevin: I loved you at first sight. Right after Katrina was my first second line involvement. We got ready in two weeks to parade that day. And I’ve been loving it ever since.

Antoinette: I decided I wanted to do co-ed. I started educating a lot of folks on the culture so I could bring in the males as well, and we formed under Undefeated Gents.

However, I had grand kids. The grandkids were always under my wing. We have this little thing called, “From the womb to the street.” Kenaria came straight from Touro’s NICU to get dressed and be part of a parade on the day that she was discharged from the hospital. And she’s been doing it ever since.

Kevin: Now she’s not in the middle of the street, she be on top of the hood of the car!


Kenaria Devezin, Undefeated Divas, Gents and Kids Social and Pleasure Club parade
Kenaria Devezin, Undefeated Divas, Gents and Kids Social and Pleasure Club parade; by and courtesy of Vincent Simmons

Antoinette: For the first five years, I was predominately Uptown. My parade would always start from Seventh and Danneel at Joe’s House of Blues. One of the stops would be our family home at 2916 General Taylor.

As time went on, I started getting members to join from all over the city. They were from New Orleans East, downtown, uptown. I came up with an idea. How about we go from uptown and end downtown? We tried that a couple years and it pretty much wore us out. It was too long.

I said, “I’ll tell you what, we can try this. We do uptown one year, downtown the next year.” It worked out pretty well. When we parade downtown, we either start from Armstrong Park or Candlelight Bar. We go to Good Times II in the Fifth Ward, which is with Keep’N It Real with Perry Franklin.

We go around to Impression Barbershop and over to Granny’s place at 2751 St. Phillip where the Dumaine Street Gang gives us the stop. The first time we came to Granny’s house, she didn’t like it because she didn’t know what was going on. Once she really got into it, she looked forward to it. She lived for that third Sunday in January. The same outfit we would wear, we would get her to wear. We would have our seamstress would make it for her. She had to have everything just laid out and ready to go. She went to church that morning and got home in time for that parade to start. She went to running things: “You don’t belong? Get out of here!” “Get off the porch!”

Kevin: “If you ain’t coming here to get dressed and change your clothes, don’t come in here!”

“I don’t need no extra people in here.” She’d lock the front door until she knew we were ready to go. And then she’d go get her little chair, sit on the porch, and watch us come out, and head towards Seal’s Class Act.

Antoinette Devezin coming out the door
Antoinette Devezin coming out the door; 2017; by and courtesy of MJ Mastrogiovanni


Antoinette: We’re a small organization and don’t have as much publicity. But we do a lot. We do go out and try to support all of the parading organizations out there. We’ve given stops for groups like Dumaine Gang, Men of Class, Good Fellas.

Antoinette: Our organization is hands-on. We do everything ourselves. We don’t contract out our work to anybody. I am always this person who has to change at the least three outfits in one parade. It’s always real flamboyant and real big.

One year, my husband was the king for the Ole and Nu Style Fellas. I made his collar for the ball. That was one collar. And then for the parade, I went in with two collars. And all of this was done by my hands and my hands only. Our nephew, Henri, had been living in Atlanta, Georgia, and had just come back to New Orleans. Every time he would come to the house, I was working on something because I’m in almost everybody’s parade. I’ve reigned as the queen for so many parades, I’m always doing something.

Antoinette Devezin reigns as Queen of the Good Fellas parade
Antoinette Devezin reigns as Queen of the Good Fellas parade; 2019; by and courtesy of MJ Mastrogiovanni


Henri decided he wanted to try his hands at it, and he’s doing great. Between him, myself and my husband, we do everything that you see. When we get out on the streets, everything is done by the three of us. We get some help from some of the other members, but they’re not much on getting their hands burned—they don’t want to get touched by a glue gun. They don’t want to cut their hands with sharp scissors or get stuck by a needle. My husband rolls the bows, and my daughter Kenaria busts the bows. And I pretty much design and put things together. Everything is done in house.

This past year here has been some trying times because I lost the actual head of my club at the age of 93, which was my grandmother. And ten months later, which has only been since August, I lost another person who was a part of me, which is Granny—Kevin’s grandmother—at the age of 95. They passed away 10 months apart. I don’t think I got through theirs too well. It’s still hard.

Kevin: It wasn’t corona.

Antoinette: No, it wasn’t corona. It was old age. I dedicated our parade in 2020 to my grandmother.

Kevin: When Granny passed, we were dealing with corona. She wasn’t living at her house on St. Philip anymore, but my little niece got in touch with the people who owned the property asked the resident who stayed on her side of the double if we could have the second line band on the porch with balloons. That was beautiful of them to do that for us. They told us, “We heard this was your house. We heard everything about it.” She wasn’t that type to have a jazz funeral come out the church. She was an old traditional type, so we had the band at the house afterwards.

Interview conducted by Rachel Breunlin of the Neighborhood Story Project.