Day on the Ridge returned to a Gilroy family’s home Sunday, featuring a full day’s lineup of live bands, raising more than $150,000 for a local nonprofit and bringing together hundreds of locals and visitors in the spirit of charity and camaraderie.
The May 28 benefit event took place at the home of Brenda and Shawn Chizanskos in the Eagle Ridge community. Proceeds from ticket sales—including VIP tables for $5,000—as well as sponsorships benefited the St. Joseph’s Family Center, a Gilroy-based nonprofit that provides food, basic needs and other resources for local underserved residents.
“All the money we get goes to charity,” said Shawn Chizanskos, who owns a sheet metal manufacturing company in Morgan Hill.
He added that some local wineries and breweries donated their products to the event, allowing the organizers to donate drink sales proceeds to St. Joseph’s. Local individual and business sponsors helped pay for the cost of more than half a dozen live bands and performers.
Before the event’s headlining band, Blues Traveler, performed, event representatives took the stage to present St. Joseph’s Family Center Executive Director David Cox with a giant cardboard check representing a total of $154,661 for the local nonprofit.
“We want to thank every single one of you,” Shawn Chizanskos told the crowd. “Every single one of you made this possible.”
Cox, who has headed St. Joseph’s Family Center for 22 years, briefly addressed the crowd when he was called to the stage between bands. The local nonprofit’s signature programs are its food bank and food distribution services for families in need.
“We are doing 300% more service delivery now… than we were pre-pandemic,” Cox said. “We are serving people who are in dire need, and this event fills every gap that we have all year-round.”
Cox added he is “eternally grateful” for the event organizers, attendees, sponsors and performers.
About 1,050 people attended the May 28 event, Chizanskos said. The day’s festivities included a wide variety of food and beverages from local businesses, games and activities on the terraced hillside property and a swimming pool in front of a professional stage built in the Chizanskos’ backyard just for the event.
For many attendees on May 28, Day on the Ridge this year was as much an opportunity to see longtime friends and enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon as it was a concert.
Gosta Brolin and Mikhaela Ortiz have each attended Day on the Ridge once previously, and returned together on May 28. Both grew up in Gilroy and now live in Morgan Hill. Brolin said he has known Shawn Chizanskos for about 20 years, describing him as a “great guy.”
They said this year’s event was noticeably bigger than previous Day on the Ridge events, and the welcoming, hometown atmosphere reminded them of how the Gilroy Garlic Festival used to be.
“You get to see a lot of people that you haven’t seen in a long time,” Ortiz added. “And the music is awesome. The food is great, and everybody is so friendly.”
Performing on stage at the May 28 Day on the Ridge were Whelan Stone, Laurie Morvan Band, Fleetwood Mask, Hollywood U2 and Blues Traveler. Local high school student Jake Grissom kicked off the festivities with a performance of the national anthem, and DJ Ponce kept the crowd moving between sets.
Blues Traveler’s frontman, John Popper, did not perform, but the rest of his band played on with a set of classic rock cover tunes and an extended jam session. They were joined throughout their set by members of bands who played earlier in the day.
Blues Traveler guitarist Chan Kinchla told the crowd that Popper could not perform because he was “deathly ill.” Popper had posted on the internet earlier in the evening that he was suffering from food poisoning.
Mistyping the name of the city, Popper posted on Facebook at 5:26pm May 28, “So heartbroken I have to miss the show in Gilmore [sic] today…I have bad food poisoning (and) gotta head to urgent care.”
Shawn Chizanskos admitted Popper’s unexpected absence was “frustrating” for some Blues Traveler fans in attendance, but people in general are understanding of the effects of illness.
The Chizanskos’, who have lived in Gilroy since 2000 and raised their three children here, started the Day on the Ridge event at their Eagle Ridge home in 2017. The concert and get-together was held annually until 2019 and then took a few years off due to the pandemic, returning for the first time this past Memorial Day weekend.
From 2017-2019, Day on the Ridge raised more than $220,000 for St. Joseph’s Family Center.