Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire.
Featuring 43 teams squaring off in an intense scavenger hunt caught live on film, the Fireball Run Adventurally will make a pit stop in the north country Tuesday for day five of an eight-day, 2,500-mile competition. Watertown, as one of the host cities, will be featured in “Northern Exposure,” a film produced by Universal Studios.
Live entertainment will start at noon and continue throughout the day. The section of Washington Street from the Roswell P. Flower statue to Sterling Street will be closed from noon to 8 p.m. for the rally and parking will not be permitted there. Drivers are expected to cross the finish line near the statue from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
The competitors, including teams from Carthage and Clayton, will kick off their hunt about 1 p.m. at the Madison Barracks polo field in Sackets Harbor, and are expected to start arriving in downtown Watertown after 2 p.m.
Local competitors — Team Focus (#100) and Team Frontenac (#16) — should have a leg up on their rivals in Watertown as they use their brainpower to solve clues at popular landmarks. Carthage residents James T. and Erica A. Leonard, who own small businesses Leonard Printing and Let’s Play 1000 Islands, will be driving a candy-blue-colored 2012 Ford Focus. Clayton’s Michael A. Colello will be driving his Frontenac Crystal Springs business delivery truck with an old friend from college, David Stapleton of Butler, Pa.
Mrs. Leonard from Team Focus took a brief timeout while on the road Sunday to speak with the Times during the first day of the rally, which started in Independence, Ohio, and concluded in Jamestown. A live GPS tracker on the Fireball website, www.fireball.com/live, indicated that at 5:15 p.m. Sunday the team still was busy solving clues on 3rd Street in downtown Jamestown.
“We just got done singing with the band 10,000 Maniacs on stage!” Mrs. Leonard said after answering her cellphone at 5:30 p.m. The clue that led the couple to the popular Jamestown rock band’s concert, she said, directed them to “locate a musical haven for young Jamestown talents and soon-to-be stars, grab an instrument and do a performance for 10,000 Maniacs.”
“He played the drums while I sang the oldies song ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’ by Captain and Tennille,” she said. “We got the full 20 points.”
The Leonards made several detours en route to Jamestown to perform missions. They released a goldfinch back into the wild by tagging it with their team number, for example, and stopped at a town on Lake Erie to have their picture taken with a World War II general who fought in Operation Neptune, the code name for the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. For another mission, they located a famous package of mail delivered by legendary airmail pilot Charles Lindbergh, who was the first man to complete a transatlantic solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927.
“He dropped mail in different locations and delivered a bag to the governor in Jamestown,” Mrs. Leonard said. The couple held up the famous bag with a pair of white gloves to finish the mission.
Fans also can track the whereabouts of teams by following them on Facebook and Twitter.
“I haven’t posted anything yet, but I’m going to do it right when we’re finished,” Mrs. Leonard said Sunday while en route to the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy, a museum paying homage to “I Love Lucy” sitcom stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, who played Ricky Ricardo.
But the rally won’t be all fun and games for Team Focus. The team’s motto, “Treachery is Everywhere,” was chosen for a good reason.
“They better watch out for us, because we want to win,” Mrs. Leonard said.
Both local teams are sponsoring missing children from the Buffalo area as a part of the rally’s recovery effort, which has found a total of 38 children during past competitions. Team Focus will raise awareness for Aadam Hoffman, while Team Frontenac will sponsor his sister, Azora. The siblings were reported missing in 2008.
On Wednesday morning, Fireball teams will leave Watertown for Waterbury, Conn. They will finish Saturday in Bangor, Maine.
The following activities will be hosted Tuesday for the Fireball Run on Washington Street:
■ A live web broadcast on stage near the statue will be shown at http://www.fireballrun.com. Ron Seggi, who hosts a radio show at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., will co-host the show with Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.
■ Numerous performances by local bands and groups will be featured on a stage in front of the Watertown Daily Times at Washington and Sterling streets, including the Fort Drum Military Band, NNY All-Starz Cheer cheerleaders and contestants from the North Country Idol competition. Stephens Media group will host a live radio broadcast on WFRY-FM Froggy 97.5 and WTNY-AM 790. Raffle prizes will be announced throughout the day.
■ Antique cars from the Highway Legends club in Watertown will be featured near the statue and club volunteers will wash participants’ cars after they arrive.
■ In addition to the Universal Studios camera crew, the JCC film club will gather video throughout the day to provide extra footage for rally organizers.
■ The Black River Valley Club will host a VIP reception for rally participants at 6 p.m., and several tickets for the dinner will be given away to spectators.
■ The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce will host a farmers market from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in addition to the one scheduled Wednesday.