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Family tailgates before deceased loved one’s funeral

A funeral held yesterday for Tampa resident Bill Higgs generated an unorthodox pre-ceremony ritual: a tailgate party in the funeral home’s parking lot.

“Bill was kind of a dud and didn’t have very many friends,” said his twin brother Phil. “I was worried nobody would show up for this thing, so I thought I’d increase attendance by sweetening the pot with some added value.”

“Would Bill have loved the idea? I don’t know, but who cares? He’s dead,” he added.

“It was so thoughtful of Phil to set this up,” said the Higgs twins’ mom Delores. “I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get drunk but that wasn’t the case thanks to this wholly inappropriate idea.”

“I had a great time, which is not something people normally say about a funeral, but it was just like a tailgate party before a Bucs game, just with fewer guys with their faces painted,” said Teresa Sandberg of Tampa, a stranger who showed up because she was driving by and saw the party happening. “I didn’t stay for the actual funeral, but I don’t ever go into the stadium for Bucs games after tailgate parties either.”

“I’d like to share my deepest condolences with the family,” she said. “If they’ll share the recipe for that delightful habanero dip, that is.”

Heather Smallwood, a distant cousin of the Higgs family said, “I didn’t even know there was supposed to be a funeral. My mom said, ‘go to Tampa and have chicken wings and beer with your cousins’. We live in Seminole and it’s a drive but I’m unemployed, so why not? I’m sorry for their loss. Or my loss, I guess, since we’re related. Whatever.”

“I think I’d it was a success,” said Phil. “Not the funeral. Most people didn’t stick around for that. Not all of it, anyway. Possibly because we had to push that back a half hour. But the party was a hit.”

Woody Hamner, a delivery person for Tapped Out, Inc., a local company that rents beer kegs, gas grills and other party equipment apologized for being late to set up the party.

“My bad. Funeral homes aren’t on my regular route,” he said.

Overall, Phil said he’s very satisfied overall with how the event turned out.

“I think I know what we’re doing when mom finally kicks it.”

Clark Brooks

About Clark Brooks

Senior Supreme Executive Premium Content Editor for Tampa News Force. Comedian, writer and ordained minister. Twitter: @ClarkBrooks | Instagram:@ClarkBrooks54