CONNEAUT — Talk about “Back to the Future.”
When Jay Lovell put on his World War II gear and laced up his army boots, he didn’t think he would spend the day looking at a movie version of a DeLorean car
. “This is really something,” he said. “Pretty nifty. I guess it would be odd to drive this compared to the WWII vehicle I drove here.” Lovell of Burton served as a re-enactor at 2012 Fireball Run Northern Exposure, an eight-day, cross country road rally and scavenger hunt to raise awareness for missing children.
Conneaut Area Chamber of Commerce member Jim Furman said the committee was “honored and excited” to host the event after (Conneaut Area Chamber of Commerce executive director) Wendy DuBey nominated the city as a destination lunch stop
. “The committee for the Fireball Run came out here and saw the area and saw the lake and they said, ‘This is amazing,’” Furman said. “Our goal is to showcase what we have here in our area in the hopes that in four of five years the Fireball Run will come back and make Conneaut an overnight stay on the run.”
The Fireball Run included a scavenger hunt and the participants had to find a pay telephone. The event promotes the Race to Recover America’s Missing Children, and each of the crews will be promoting a child from their region.
Volunteer Calley Palicia, 13, of Erie stuck missing children posters on the local classic cars that participated in the event. Furman said while the day started out with 38 kids located through the Fireball Run program, it may have ended with 39 found.
“We got word that one more child may have been located today, so we are really hoping that is the case,” he said. Astronaut Jon McBride of Florida said he plans to log 2,200 miles in the trip. “Or 2,500 miles, depending on how many times I get lost,” he joked. McBride said he is fresh off the heels of space shuttle Endeavour’s retirement flight.
“I was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida when it took off and I was in Houston to see it land,” he said. “The retirement is bittersweet.”
McBride and fellow ralliers enjoyed a perch and homemade pie lunch at the pavilion at Conneaut Township Park. “There is nothing better than a day at the lake, and we feel like we gave these drivers the ultimate Conneaut experience,” Furman said. “
We fried up some perch to give them a taste of Conneaut and even the weather held up. The beach looks great and the water is beautiful and the lighthouse is in sight. Everything was just perfect here today.”
Furman said the rally stops can be seen on streaming video and “webisodes” at www.fireballrun.tv.