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In an effort to avoid potential exposure to the messages from Westboro Baptist Church, Horlick students Monday were released two hours early.

While members of the Kansas church were not present at dismissal, a group of around 30 residents – many of whom were also at St. Lucy’s parish Sunday night – walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the school to let students know they are loved and supported.

“We love you, Horlick,” shouted Beth Ashton Gilmore and Lisa Carlson.

Gilmore and Carlson both held signs saying, “We love Horlick, and so does God.”

Students were dismissed at 12:38 – school normally ends at 2:38 – and many of them thanked those marching. Several students also gave high-fives.

“That was so great, to hear ‘thank you’ and for the students to understand why we’re here,” Gilmore said.

Photo credit: Westboro Counter Protest LiveStream

Members of WBC did arrive by 2 p.m. for the 30-minute picket they promised on their website, and they stood on the median of the right-turn lane of Mt. Pleasant Street and Rapids Drive.

The crowd of Horlick supporters grew to about 100 on both sides of Rapids Drive, including groups of students who returned to march with the anti-Westboro crowd.

By positioning themselves on Rapids Drive, Westboro was prevented from occupying any of the sidewalk around the school. The locations were chosen primarily based on requests from Racine police in order to keep Westboro from getting close to school grounds.

Photo credit: Westboro Counter Protest LiveStream

By 2:20 p.m., marchers reported that Westboro had left the area. Again, there were no incidents of trouble.