The Xikis family during the drive-by wake. (Photo by Michael Anderer)
By Michael Lewis
WANTAGH, N.Y. — One by one, the cars filed into the MacArthur High School parking lot, which started filling it up around 11:30 a.m.
Some occupants — every one wearing a mask or a scarf — got out of their cars to talk about the news of the day, the pandemic, their favorite sport, and of course, Gus Xikis.
Xikis was the reason members of the Eastern New York and Long Island soccer family were there with their families to honor the late Long Island Soccer Football League president, who passed away on April 15.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a traditional wake could not be held for Xikis since large gatherings are not allowed in New York. So, the LISFL soccer powers that be decided on a perfect way to honor the popular and beloved league president – an emotional a drive-by wake on Sunday.
This pictures tells it all: a grateful Xikis family member and an endless line of cars (Michael Anderer Photo)
Helen Bodenstein, long-time volunteer with the LISFL, handed out memorial cards from the Charles O’Shea Funeral Home to every driver.
“Fill not your hearts with pain and sorrow, but remember me in every tomorrow,” the card read. “Remember the joy, the laughter, the smiles. I’ve only gone to rest a little while. Although my leaving causes pain and grief, my going has eased my hurt and given me relief. So dry your eyes and remember me, not as I am now, but as I used to be. Because I will remember you all and look on with a smile. Understand, in your hearts, I’ve only gone to rest a little while. As long as I have the love of each of you, I can live my life in the hearts of all of you.”
No one was officially counting vehicles, but it was estimated that more than 100 cars participated in the special ceremony.
At around noon, the procession began to Xikis’ house, which was nearby. Drivers turned on their blinking hazard lights as though they were part of a funeral so the seemingly endless chain of cars would not be broken. When the procession needed to turn left, someone in an SUV, blocked oncoming traffic at a light.
And on and on it went. According to one LISFL official, the parade of cars went on for more than an hour.
When drivers reached their destination, they stopped. Some people gave flowers and even a soccer ball. Others gave the family a sign while yet others blew kisses to the Xikis family.
And on and on it went. According to one LISFL official, the parade of cars went on for more than an hour to honor a respected and beloved man, a family and soccer man, who had made such a major impact in soccer, and his family.
The Xikis family gives thanks to the soccer community. (Michael Anderer Photo)