The rattling crack of a musket hailing back to the early 19th century was fired off by Tina M. Scheer from Maine at the Madison Barracks polo field in Sackets Harbor on Tuesday afternoon, sending a trail of smoke directed toward Black River Bay.
After the musket shot, two soldiers dressed in uniforms from the War of 1812 fired a cannon with a thunderous boom.
The shot fired by the petite blonde woman — who’d never fired a gun in her life — was an appropriate start to an afternoon of mayhem, as 43 contestants from across the country entered the north country leg of the Fireball Run Adventurally, a 2,500-mile scavenger hunt put on by Universal Studios.
After cruising to Sackets Harbor, groups drove to Watertown, where they completed missions at Car-Freshner Corp., Morris Norstar Hatchery, WPBS television studio, Jefferson County Historical Society, Flower Memorial Library, the Woolworth Building and the Paddock Arcade.
But while the competitors had plenty of fun, they were obviously in a hurry.
“We don’t mean to be antisocial — we’re the most social people you’ll ever meet — but we want to win!” Mrs. Scheer said to a crowd of spectators at Madison Barracks before slamming the front door of her sports car and speeding away.
For more than an hour, spectators watched glitzy sports cars driven by mostly by business executives roll into the historical site that was used as a training ground for American soldiers during the War of 1812. The Sackets Harbor High School band played the pop song “Poker Face” as a bright orange 2012 Lamborghini Aventador pulled up to the field, driven by Greg Sidwell from Palm Harbor, Fla. The long line of sports cars clashed boldly with the re-enactors dressed in uniform.
“Firing a musket for the first time is something I’ll never forget,” Mr. Sidwell said.
Michael A. Colello of Clayton, who pulled in with his delivery truck from Frontenac Crystal Springs, was greeted by locals with a round of applause.
Taking a brief hiatus to talk with the Times, Mr. Colello said the fast-paced adventure has felt much like a rat race.
“It’s been a little bit rocky,” he said, explaining the team has gotten lost by following other cars the wrong way. “They give you a bunch of clues, but you have to use Google and GPS to find out where to go. On the second day I thought I was going mad and wanted to quit, but it gets easier.”
The Times also caught up with Team Focus, Erica A. and James T. Leonard of Carthage, at the Car-Freshner Corp. headquarters. To complete the mission, a photographer took a picture of the team with a person dressed as a Little Tree air freshener mascot near a sign at the front of the plant.
Their most memorable experience so far?
“The trip to the Lucille Ball museum in Jamestown,” Mr. Leonard said, referring to the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy that pays tribute to the sitcom “I Love Lucy.”
At the museum in Jamestown — the birthplace of actress Lucille Ball — those who were brave enough put on wigs and attire to dress like the famous star to complete a mission. But while Mrs. Leonard had no problem wearing the effeminate outfit and standing on an official set used to film the show, Mr. Leonard decided that doing so wasn’t worth the 15 points he would earn his team.
“I might have done it for a couple hundred points, though,” he said with a laugh.
At the Paddock Arcade, teams had their pictures taken with an actor, in a black suit and top hat, portraying Loveland Paddock, who built the arcade in 1850. Olson A. Frasier, a 19-year-old Korea native attending Jefferson Community College, filmed teams with a video camera as they scurried down the hallway. Four students from the college’s film club took extra footage that producers from Universal Studios will use in a film they produce for the rally.
“I want to be a screenwriter,” Mr. Frasier said.
The mayhem of the day continued during the evening on Washington Street. Flanking a large inflated finish line were pom-pom-waving NNY All Stars cheerleaders, ages 4 to 17; fire tossers and contestants from North Country Idol, who performed all day.
Contestants will leave Watertown today for Schenectady and finish Saturday in Bangor, Maine. Fans can track competitors as they finish the eight-day rally this week at www.fireballrun.com/live.