BANGOR, Maine — Little 3-year-old Faith Lynn Stover is a girl of few words, but the Addison toddler had no problem picking out the Fireball Run Adventurally vehicle that caught her eye.
“That one,” the girl in pink said while pointing to a Cadillac Escalade ESV that towered over her and had a huge set of bull horns attached to the hood and paint that looked like cowhide.
The “Texas Style” Cadillac was one of around 39 rally vehicles that started in Independence, Ohio, and arrived in Bangor on Saturday for the last leg of their 8-day, 15-city, 2,500-mile interactive road rally held to help support the Race to Recovery of America’s Missing Children.
Faith Lynn’s father, Mike Stover, his girlfriend, Elizabeth Gray, and friend Corey Crowley, all of Addison, arrived in Bangor to check out the various rally cars, some that had been featured in movies and others worth up to a quarter of a million dollars.
“I’m a big car guy,” said Stover, just after Gray took a photo of him and his daughter posing with a DeLorean that stopped at a rally point set up at Davenport Park, home of a memorial to honor the battleship USS Maine that exploded and sank in Havana Harbor 114 years ago and touched off the Spanish-American War.
“They have to take a picture at the front of the Remember the Maine [memorial] and the Maine Troop Greeters are passing out coins to each team member,” Jessie Logan, from Fusion Bangor, said explaining the rally stop. “It’s kinda cool because they have to walk down through the troop greeters — like the troops would.”
The 2012 Fireball Run Adventurally — the Northern Exposure edition — arrived in Maine on Friday, and after rallying around Ogunquit made its way to Bangor on Saturday.
Team Bangor Riverdrivers, made up of world champion “Timber” Tina Scheer of The Great Maine Lumberjack Show and Maine Office of Tourism Director Carolann Ouelette, featured images of Waterville toddler Ayla Reynolds, who was reported missing from her dad’s home on Dec. 16, 2011.
“It’s not about winning,” Scheer said. “It’s about completing the race.”
The event sponsors kept the team members busy during the 8-day East Coast driving adventure.
“From the minute you got up in the morning until your head hits the pillow — they had you going,” Scheer said. After breakfast they gave participants an envelope with a mission, and once that mission was completed rally members would be given directions to their next mission.
Teams could also attempt to get bonus points along the way, but “some of the bonuses were not real,” Scheer said, giving an example of bonus points offered for those who found a Sherman tank in Sherman, Pa.
“There is no tank in Sherman, Pennsylvania,” she said, with a smile on her face.
At the Bass Park rally point, the teams attended a harness race and had to select a winning horse. Scheer and Ouellette selected “Go for the Gusto” and could be seen cheering on their steed.
“If you picked the winning horse, you got 100 points,” Scheer said, after watching her horse lose the race.
The other Maine team, Bill and Valerie Sowles of Morong Falmouth, featured photos of missing Lewiston teenager Aydriana Tetu.
Rally members went to Thomas Hill Standpipe, Cole Land Transportation Museum, Mount Hope Cemetery, Mansfield Stadium, Bangor Municipal Golf Course and Hollywood Casino, and the 15 or so who ventured downtown were caught in a mock shootout involving the Brady Gang, played by actors from Bangor High School.
As the drivers arrived in front of Top Shelf Coins & Comics shop, the former location of Dakin Sporting Goods where Al Brady and his pals planned to buy a submachine gun, gunshots rang out and the unsuspecting rally participants were told to duck and rushed inside the store.
“I was sitting there watching their faces and it was pretty funny,” Jeff Robinson, Top Shelf store owner, said about the rally racers caught in the historic gunfight. “They were having a good time.”
Brady, played by Marshelle Stern, and Clarence Lee Shaffer Jr., played by Ashley Babcock, both seniors at Bangor High, were killed by G-men in the street and a third gangster, James Dalhover, played by sophomore Luke Cote, hid inside the store.
“It had screams of terror and the whole nine yards,” said Bangor fire Lt. Greg Hodge, who along with firefighter-paramedic Andrew Emery donned antique gear to play yesteryear firefighters.
While people started lining Main Street for a parade of the rally cars, Bangor police Officers Jason McAmbley and Ed Mercier used a computer to do a dozen iris scans of local children.
“This event is all about missing children,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said. “The iris scan helps keep kids safe and is another tool to help find them.”
Saturday’s rain did seem to keep some people away, but not Litchfield residents McKenzie, Cheyanne and Nicole Gervais, and friend Savannah Poulin, who all came to Bangor to see The Cowgirl team, made up of world champion barrel racers Kelly Kaminski and Laura Lambert.
“We’ve been following them all day,” said 12-year-old McKenzie, who along with her sister and friend are barrel racers themselves. All three sported sweatshirts autographed by Kaminski and Lambert.
The interactive adventure series ended with the parade that was kicked off by presenter Ron Seggi.
“We do it for the missing children,” he said, drawing a round of applause from those who lined street. “It’s not a race. It’s a race to find the missing children.”
In the last three years, the series has helped to find 39 children, one shortly before this year’s rally began, Seggi said.
The Fireball Run Adventurally is a national live event and film series, headquartered at NBCUniversal Studios. The rally racers were filmed along the race route and that film will be made into a movie that will be released next year.
Saturday evening it was announced that Team Byrd, Grant Richardson and Gerald Byrd, took first place in the rally, with Team Legally Insane, made up of married attorneys Frank and Ruth Smith, taking second and father-son Team Superirepair.com, with Jim and Ron Shaver, rounding out the top three.
Team Bangor Riverdrivers was at the head of the downtown parade, which also featured Bangor police and fire personnel, the Air National Guard Honor Guard, the Hermon Pan Band, the Anah Funsters, University of Maine hockey team, Husson University cheerleaders, the Marine Corps League, Step In Time Cloggers and others.
World War II veteran Galen Cole of Bangor, who served with the Fifth Armored Division of the U.S. Army in Germany and who is a local advocate for veterans, rode in a green WWII Jeep during the parade and held a rope that when pulled chimed the Cole museum’s Freedom Bell, a World War II church bell mounted on a trailer.
The Lamborghini, Corvette, Ferraris, DeLoreans, Ford Mustangs, an all-electric Fisker Karma and Chevy Volt, an ambulance, custom-built vehicles and others parked on lower State Street so parade watchers could get an up close look.
Two Eddington women watched and took photos of the parade dressed in white T-shirts that featured Ayla Reynolds. Neither knew the little girl, who was reported missing by her father, Justin DiPietro, who said his 20-month-old daughter vanished from her bed during the night. Police have said they don’t expect to find the toddler alive.
“It just breaks your heart,” said one of the women, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Marie.
“We’re trying to keep people aware that she’s still missing and we’re still looking for her,” Tina Babin said.
“Events like this are great to get the word out,” said Marie, who took photos to post on the United4Alya blog.