When Sue Marchetti died in December three weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she left a hole in the heart of the tight-knit neighborhood where she'd raised her family. On Saturday, James Boss tried to fill it by doing something she would have loved: gathering the whole block together for a big backyard party.
The Deer Park shindig -- Susiepalooza -- was organized by Boss, 18, to raise money for the Lustgarten Foundation, a pancreatic cancer research center in Bethpage. Seventeen bands were set to perform in the Boss backyard from noon to 11 p.m. With a ticket price of $15 and private donations, Boss and his family said they expected to raise between $3,000 and $4,000.
"It's very heartwarming; it shows even though some of these people may not have known her, they care about the cause," Boss said. A sophomore at SUNY Oneonta, he's majoring in music industry, he said. "It's awesome seeing a punk scene and people from outside of that scene come together to listen to some amazing music . . . in the name of someone who was an amazing person."
Boss' family and the Marchetti family, next-door neighbors for 18 years, were always together, mom Linda Boss said. They were the kind of neighbors who took joint family vacations, ate dinner together and helped raise each other's children.
"She was like a second mom to him, she was close to James," Phil Marchetti, 53, said of his late wife, who loved to cook and baked thousands of cookies every year around Christmas. "Any kind of gathering like this, she was all for -- she loved stuff like this."
Marchetti, 51, left behind three children, ages 21, 19 and 14. On Saturday, her kids, friends and neighbors drifted around the block wearing purple T-shirts with angel wings on the back and "Susie's Angels" on the front as live music and barbecue smells drifted from the backyard.
One of the bands, Carbon Thief, said they were excited to play music for a charitable cause, even though they didn't know Marchetti. "We'll play anywhere, so the fact that it's going to such a good cause is just a bonus," said Bobby deQuillfeldt, 22, guitarist and singer. "You always want to try and give back."
The Lustgarten Foundation was established in 1998 in honor of former Cablevision vice chairman and Madison Square Garden chairman Marc Lustgarten before he died of pancreatic cancer. Cablevision owns Newsday.