Dozens of people gathered at Boise’s Table Rock trailhead on Saturday morning as even more shiny silver, purple and green star-shaped helium balloons floated over their heads.
It was the beginning of a memorial for James “Jim” Harper III and his son, James “JJ” Harper IV — two Boiseans killed in fire at a home in Donnelly over Fourth of July weekend. After the 1.5-mile trek, the hikers planned to release hundreds more of the balloons (in the colors of Borah High, where JJ played football) from atop Table Rock, a trail that the Harpers loved to hike.
Fourteen-year-old Zack Spellman helped organize the event for his brother JJ, also 14. (Spellman’s mother was Jim Harper’s girlfriend.) He has fond memories of the hike with Jim and JJ, he said. The first time he had climbed the popular trail was with the two of them.
“We thought it would be a small friend group, but so many people wanted to help out,” said Spellman, who was touched by the crowd that turned out on Saturday and hoped each of the hikers would remember JJ for his kind heart.
“He never failed to put a smile on anyone’s face,” Spellman said. “He was just an awesome person to be around.”
Jim Harper’s co-workers from Idaho Power also showed up, hauling helium tanks to the top of the mountain and handing out bottles of water at its base, in remembrance of a colleague who was every bit as loved as his son.
“We want people to remember what big hearts they had,” said Delia Gomez.
“This was just a horrible, horrible accident and we want to support this community,” said colleague Lisa Growe.
Another of JJ’s friends, Xina Figueroa, was amazed by the show of support at the memorial.
“It shows me how he impacted people’s lives,” said Figueroa, who also helped organize the memorial.