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Leaplings have to pack 4 years of birthdays into 1 day

Posted at 10:28 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 22:32:22-05

Your birthday comes just once a year... unless you're a Leap Day baby. Then you have to pack 4 years of celebration into one special day.

Leap Day has been around for over 400 years when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the change from the Julian calendar to match our calendar year with the solar year. But despite the amount of time, society is just catching up to the unique needs of Leap Day babies.

We invited "Leaplings", as they like to be called, from West Michigan to tell us about their unique birthday

“I don’t think people understand the logistics of being unique…” explains Christina Webster.

February 29th is a big deal for Webster who, after about five decades is just turning 13.

"Been doing it for a while!" She laughed.

Dr. Ben Wickstra is a dentist at the ripe old age of 10.

“My birthday typically fell on my freshman year of my college experiences through school, so when I’d meet they’d say we’re going to celebrate your birthday on Leap Year." Dr. Wickstra recalled.

“...[My] freshman year of college I went to classes in a onesie pajama and a beanie on my head and a 5 on my back and all those good things so that was fun. I went to Dental School and spent my birthday in similar clothing…” Wickstra joked with FOX 17.

And Leanne VanEe is just about to reach her teen-aged years at the age of 4 and wants to be a gymnast or a teacher. She told us she hopes all her friends know how much she enjoys spending time with them.

It's not all fun, games, and astronomy though. Even after going through the headache of Y2K, Computers still didn't account for Leaplings until recently. Applying for a credit card, joining the military, or getting a driver's license could put them in IT limbo if it was a non-leap year.

"... fifteen years ago when computers were just starting out, if I got pulled over February twenty-ninth would not show up as a valid birth-date even though my driver’s license that’s what was printed, it would look like fraudulent identification” Christina Webster told us.

“The year two-thousand was not supposed to have a Leap Year because it was a multiple of a hundred, since it was also a multiple of four-hundred, that canceled the canceling and we still got to have a birthday.” Dr. Wickstra explained. “It just went by for everybody with Y-2-K and stuff, but we didn’t care we were just worried about our Leap Year”

But what's a few computer glitches and technicalities among friends? For Leaplings, it's about celebrating in their own unique way.

Christina's family likes to plan something big.

"The last few leap years years they have held surprise birthday parties - We’re not doing that this year!” She said. “This year we’re going to go out with friend and family and I’m going to choose where we’re going”

“[We] usually make it a game. And so we try to figure out when do my kids get older than me." Dr. Wickstra told us his son, Owen, officially passed him this year.

Even more fun are the connections they share.

"Well the past four years I never really remembered, but I have a ... great grandpa that was born on Leap Year." Leanne told us he would've been 104, - or by Leapling rules, 24, this year.

According to various reports, the odds of being a Leap Day baby are 1 in 1,400 and there are just under 200,000 Leaplings alive in the US today. They have their own honor's society and some of them even planned a cruise this leap-year where dozens of Leaplings will meet up and celebrate together.