DERRY — It was a day of remembrance and memories of times spent with great friends over music and pizza.
The third annual Pizzastock band festival was held Saturday in MacGregor Park. The hot, sticky temperatures didn't melt away any spirits as the day highlighted a long list of youth bands and paid tribute to the memory of one Derry teen who loved the combination of eating pizza and making music.
Pizzastock was launched in 2017 as a way to honor the memory of Jason Flood, a Derry teen who died in November 2016. The Flood family wanted to connect with local youth musicians and also honor the teen’s memory.
This year’s event featured 17 bands, food trucks and agencies and organizations offering resources, including The Upper Room, a Family Resource Center, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the South Central Public Health Network, and the Center for Life Management, all providing information and prompting a public conversation on suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
“We are continuing our efforts to improve conversations around mental health issues and suicide prevention,” said Pizzastock organizer Doug Flood. “We want this event to be a positive reminder of all the things Jason loved and supported in his life."
Flood said his son had a passion for music and played in several bands throughout high school. On the MacGregor Park stage, a large banner highlights one of the teen's own bands — Floody and the BPs.
"Pizzastock is one way that we can keep Jason’s memory alive while also providing much-needed community resources and discussion about suicide prevention," Flood added.
Bands and performers that took the Pizzastock stage included Girl Scout Cookies, Conor Rathburn, Turner, Val Verde, Safe Joy, Anna Davis, Patrick Sullivan, the Pinkerton Academy drum line, Payton McCarthy, Stepping Stones, Jenna Sullivan, Saintec, Chasing Mountains, Rebuff, Fourth Degree, Afterimage, Apollon, The Jazz Band, MKAO, and special guest Color Killer.
Averie Duggan of Pelham came to Pizzastock with friends to honor her cousin Jason.
"It's a positive thing," Averie said, "and a way for all of us to celebrate the things he loved. It's not a sad situation; it can be remembered in a happy way."
Proceeds from Pizzastock 3 support the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry. Previous Pizzastock events supported the Sonshine Soup Kitchen and the Upper Room.
“Every day, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Derry strives to improve each child’s life by increasing self-esteem, courage, and positive values in our members,” said Jen Cuthbert, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry. “We are thrilled to partner with Pizzastock and the Jason R. Flood Memorial to help promote mental well-being in our young people."