Friends and family brought balloons and his roommates even brought some of his clothes as they gathered at UCF’s reflecting pond Friday afternoon to throw one last party for James “JP” Saul.
Friends lined up around 2 p.m. to write their goodbyes on poster boards and take pictures of a collage of photos put together showing JP celebrating some of his favorite UCF traditions: Happy Hour, tailgating and Spirit Splash.
“He was never late for anything, especially Happy Hour, even if he had to walk,” said JP’s friend and UCF juinor Katlin Hamlin, while sharing her memories of JP at his favorite Friday afternoon tradition.
“He’d show up to Knight Library wearing his chicken hat and blue board shorts,” she added. “He loved to dance by himself, with a beer in his hand, without a care in the world. He was nobody’s stranger and will be missed by everyone.”
JP’s Brother, Chris Saul, spoke to the crowd and urged everyone to not be sad and “remember this is a celebration for JP.”
With those final words he jumped into the reflecting pond to retrieve one of the rubber ducks just as JP would do for every Spirit Splash. I asked Chris how it felt to take one last jump in the reflecting pond for JP. “It felt awesome, but he probably would have done a back flip,” he said.
UCF alumnus and JP’s best friend, Alex Vazquez, spoke of his Spring Break with JP in 2008 and the phrase “Boozin’ and Cruisin’” they coined there together.
“I know JP is Boozin’ and Cruisin’ to the heavens,” Vazquez said.
James “JP” Saul will be buried in Chicago, but Saturday at 4 p.m. at Knight Library, friends and family will be accepting donations to make sure JP gets the proper send off and a memorial at Memory Mall. If you would like to donate money to help this cause please join the “JP Fundraiser for Life” event group on Facebook made by friend Sean Baird, who can be contacted via Facebook, or contact Emily Bell at Ebell@knights.ucf.edu. The event is scheduled at Knight Library between 4-8 p.m.
Bell spoke of how JP meant everything to her and knows he’s irreplaceable.
“JP meant the world to me,” she said. “I would take care of him and make sure he had a ride wherever he needed to go.”
Emily also spoke of how they considered JP the “Van Wilder of UCF.” And as everyone stood there watching the balloons float into the afternoon sky, you realized that although his journey here on Earth came to a tragic end, everyone believed he truly was Boozin’ and Cruisin’ through the heavens.