A group of Park City High School students numbering perhaps 200 Sunday afternoon staged a raucous demonstration against people affiliated with a Kansas church that preaches an anti-gay message, overwhelming the Westboro Baptist Church contingent in both numbers and noise in what is believed to be one of the largest marches during the Sundance Film Festival in years.

There were a handful of people with ties to the Westboro Baptist Church . The students drowned out the Westboro Baptist Church message as they chanted and sang songs like the National Anthem and "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. The students gathered with signs and marched from the side of the high school to a spot just off Kearns Boulevard . They encircled the people from Westboro Baptist Church as the students tried to keep them from having an audience.

Approximately eight police officers from the Park City Police Department, including Police Chief Wade Carpenter, monitored the event. The police estimated there were approximately 200 students from the high school. Carpenter said there were not problems. Police officers escorted the Westboro Baptist Church contingent away from the scene after the demonstration. The crowd of students and onlookers booed as the Westboro Baptist Church people left.

"To me, it's offensive. It's unnecessary to shove it down people's throats," said Grant Sanderson, a senior at the high school and one of the organizers of the demonstration, mentioning his dislike of Westboro Baptist Church 's pickets outside the funerals of soldiers.


Amanda Burke, a sophomore at the high school, spoke about her opposition to the funeral pickets as she described her interest in participating in the demonstration. She carried a sign saying "Happiness" on one side and "Love" on the other.

"They make me feel sick. What they're doing is completely wrong," Burke said about Westboro Baptist Church .

The Westboro Baptist Church members are in Park City to picket "Red State ," a Sundance Film Festival entry from director Kevin Smith. In the days leading up to the festival, the Westboro Baptist Church posted a statement on the Internet criticizing the film and Sundance itself.

The film was scheduled to be screened later on Sunday. Many of the people heading into the Eccles Center showed their support for the students as they went inside. Many drivers honked as they passed on Kearns Boulevard.

Some of the students returned for another demonstration just before the "Red State" screening. Others who were not students joined them, and the tenor of the later demonstration was more combative than the earlier one, with someone making obscene gestures toward the Westboro Baptist Church members and others walking by engaging the church members in shouting matches.

Smith walked through the area at 6:15 p.m., showing solidarity with the students as a crush of people descended toward him. Ten minutes later, the Westboro Baptist Church group walked away with a police escort.