NORTH ADAMS -- Anti-gay protesters who threatened to picket the funeral of U.S. Army Pfc. Michael R. DeMarsico II never appeared Saturday.
Instead, it was hundreds of people intent only on showing respect and support for DeMarsico’s family who lined the streets outside the remembrance.
The Kansas-based West boro Baptist Church had published a statement on its website indicating that it intended to protest at the funeral.
The threat prompted angst among local residents, who uniformly condemned the group and its message, which links the death of U.S. soldiers to acceptance of homosexuality.
About 200 members of the Patriot Guard Riders and other affiliated motorcycle clubs attended to honor DeMarsico and shield mourning family members and friends from protesters should the need arise, said Berkshire County ride captain Rick Grandbois.
Grandbois, of Pittsfield, said riders from around Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Connec ticut, Rhode Island and Vermont made the trip.
Additionally, hundreds of local residents dressed in blue -- the color of DeMarsico’s alma mater, Drury High School -- turned out in response to calls that spread on social media networks requesting locals come in support of DeMarsico’s family.
Paul Bahre of Granby, Conn. was one of the motorcycle riders who attended. He said he was heartened to see so many riders and locals standing together.
"This is great," he said. "It shows that the whole community is behind the family and supports the troops. It’s good to see everybody is of one mind."