They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch but on Wednesday, Feb. 29 everyone received a free extra day for Leap Year 2012. And for Leap Year babies — also known as “Leapers” and Leaplings” — this is a time of special celebration every four years.
Those born on this day can have some fun by dividing their age by 4 to create their much younger Leap Day Age. The 16-year-old teenager is “4” while the 84-year-old senior citizen is “24”. Many celebrate Sweet 16 birthdays at age 64. That’s why Leap Year people all born under the Pisces sign always feel younger than the rest of us.
Among some notables and celebrities born on Feb. 29 are:
• Bandleader Jimmy Dorsey 1904
• Actor Dennis Farina 1944
• Motivational speaker Tony Robbins 1960
• Rapper / Actor Ja Rule 1976
• Soap Star / Fashion Model Antonio Sabato Jr. 1972
Roman Emperor Julius Caesar started adding an extra day in 45 BC but the new formula for the calendar we use today was started in the 16th century. The extra Leap Day in 2012, 2016, 2020 and so forth corrects for an accumulation of time over four years. Every year the earth takes about 365 and 6 hours to revolve around the sun, so in four years that 6-hour accumulation becomes a full day that we add to the regular 365-day calendar. This correction or Leap Day has been used since the Gregorian calendar was established some 400 years ago.
Leap Day people in the U.S. –– also called “29ers” or “Leapsters” –– often celebrate their birthdays on Feb. 28 and/or March 1 and on Leap Years many celebrate for three days: Feb. 28, Feb. 29 and March 1. It’s also a marketing incentive for retailers, restaurants, airlines and nightclubs to offer special discounts, events, parties and specials.
Since 1988 the twin towns of Anthony, Texas, and Anthony, N.M., (located about 25 miles northwest of El Paso) every four years hosts the Worldwide Leap Year Festival at the Texas-New Mexico border. This year’s 9-day event attracted hundreds for a car show, fireworks, open-air market, wine tasting, golf tournament and carnival. The event was established 24 years ago when fellow Leapers Mary Ann Brown (1932) and her neighbor Birdie Lewis (1920) with support from the local chamber of commerce founded the event to help put Anthony on the map.
“It’s my 20th birthday, but I’m going to be 80 years old,” Brown told a reporter this week.
This year, her son, Jerry Garland Brown with help from Hector Giron, Secretary-Treasurer for the Anthony Lions Club, and Omar Burciaga, owner of the Red Rooster Cafe, and others helped organize the expanded event that was nearly cancelled due to funding challenges.
Thanks to the world wide web, many Leapers gather at the Honor Society of Leap Year Babies web site (leapyearday.com) and associated Facebook page to share stories, TV interviews, newspaper articles, birthdays, events and celebrations. Founded in 1997, the organization has become an online gathering place with a wealth of Feb. 29 information for more than 9,000 members worldwide.
One of the most universally famous but notoriously private Leap Year babies keeps to himself on Feb. 29. Known for his strength, speed and X-Ray vision, Clark Kent (aka, Superman) was born Feb. 29 on the planet Krypton. This year Superman turns 74 — in Earth years.
In honor of this unique day La Voz salutes the estimated 200,000 Americans and millions more around the world born on Feb. 29.