The Arizona Republic/March 9, 1992, by Edythe Jensen
APACHE JUCTION – A controversial religious group that was denied entry in the Lost Dutchman Days parade Feb., 29 showed up at the event anyway and preached loudly along the route.
Capt. Reed Cox of the Apache Junction Police Department said no one from the group was arrested because its members obeyed police orders to disburse after some of the preaching appeared to disturb parade spectators.
Cox said a group of Door members gathered at the end of the parade route, and beneath an inflated Budweiser beer-can display to preach. The group at the end of the route was disturbing spectators by shouting in their faces, Cox said.
“We told them they had 10 minutes to say what they had to say, then they had to leave or they would be arrested,” Cox said.
During the 10 minutes, members of The Door videotaped police officers and officers videotaped the religious group.
“When to 10 minutes were up, they walked away,” Cox said.
Earlier, police said they were concerned about a possible protest by The Door after the Chamber of Commerce denied the group entry into the Lost Dutchman Days Parade.
At last year’s parade, some members of the group were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after they allegedly disturbed spectators by shouting in their faces and refusing to stop.
Randy Sanders, pastor of The Door, said earlier that the church had intended to enter a float with live musicians in the parade.
Sanders said the people who were arrested last year were Door members who were in the crowd and not in the parade entry. He added that if the parade entry was denied, members would still be in the crowd of spectators “expressing what we feel about Jesus Christ.”
He said believers that the annual parade is an important event for the church because so many people are gathered in one place.
The Door has been a center of controversy in other southeast Valley communities in recent years.
Three years ago, members of The Door’s Gilbert church dressed one of its members like a blood-spattered Christ carrying a cross for the Gilbert Days Parade.
Other church members followed, screaming as they walked down Gilbert Road beside parading horses, high school bands and school floats.
Gilbert Police Chief Fred Dees said officers were called to remove the unauthorized religious display from the parade.
Cox said that during an earlier Lost Dutchman Days parade, The Door’s float featured someone dressed as Santa Claus tied to a cross and whipped by another person on the float.
Cox said he was pleased that there were no arrests of Door members and that those who appeared to be creating a disturbance obeyed orders to leave the area.
He added that there was only one arrest during the three-day Lost Dutchman Days event that attracted nearly 150,000 people.
The individual arrested was an intoxicated man who punched out a side mirror of a parked truck, Cox said.
“He apologized the next day and said he didn’t remember doing it,” Cox said.