Friends hold evening balloon release for Saige Borden
May 18, 2017


LAKE PLACID - Family, friends and acquaintances came together at 9:30 Friday night, May 12, to memorialize Saige Borden, who died earlier that day after her canoe capsized on Lake Placid.

More than 50 people gathered in the parking lot at the 'dack Shack to walk the Peninsula Trails to the shore of Lake Placid, where they released purple, star-shaped balloons with glow sticks attached. Attendants convened quietly, hugging and crying.

"I don't know what to say right now," Marjorie Waterson, one of the organizers said. "She was a free spirit. She didn't give a sh-about anything, which was awesome. I don't know; this event, we just threw it together real quick. We tried to get lanterns, but we couldn't find lanterns. Her favorite color is purple."

Borden and two other people were in the canoe in Lake Placid early that morning when it tipped over. The other two were able to swim to shore, but Borden could not and was rescued by firefighters. She died later that day at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.

People heard about the impromptu balloon release on social media or directly from friends. The news of Borden's death was still raw.

"It's just surreal and fresh, and I think we're all just kind of shocked by it," said Jillian Goulette, a former classmate and friend of Borden.

"She was, like, the funniest person I knew," said Elena Bushy, another friend and former classmate. "She was always really funny."

"Even if she didn't mean it to be funny, some of the stuff that came out of her mouth was always funny," Goulette said. "We were in a science class - we were in middle school, I think - and the teacher was showing platelets on the screen, and we had a whole lesson about how it was platelets, and then at the end of class, he asked her what it was, and she said she thought it was a leaf." A group of friends standing near Goulette and Bushy, recognizing the story, all piped up "The leaf!" before falling silent again.

Borden was roundly remembered as a free-spirited and positive force in people's lives.

"She was always bright," Hailey Daby said. "I always saw her Facebook posts as something happy. She was always adventurous, doing stuff. She was always different from everyone else, which made her really unique."

"She was definitely a free spirit. She was always like the glass is half-full, not half-empty," Brianna Walker said. "She wouldn't want anyone to be sad today. She'd want them to celebrate."

Just before 10 p.m., the group moved toward the dark trailhead with Borden's parents, Suzanne and Robert, arm-in-arm in the middle of the throng.


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