How Do You Celebrate a Leap Day Birthday?
A few of Brockport's leaplings — born on the once-every-four-years 29th of February — answer everything you've ever wondered about them.
The mystical February 29. It only occurs once every four years, which makes those born on that day (one in about 1,500 people) rare — and all the more intriguing.
At SUNY Brockport, fewer than 60 out of more than 108,000 living alumni and current students on record are leaplings (or leapsters, leapers), all born on February 29 in one of the 17 Leap Years that fell within 1936 and 2000.
In honor of Leap Day 2020 (their once-in-four-years chance to celebrate on their real birth date), we asked a few Brockport leaplings the questions we've all been wondering:
Sophomore Adrien Marzolf
Age This Year: 20 (her fifth Leap Year birthday)
An unlikely due date:
Marzolf's birth due date was actually Leap Day, but her parents didn't believe it. Soon enough, they'd welcome their leapling right on time: February 29, 2000. Marzolf has yet to meet anyone else who shares her birthday. (Well, now she has. See below, Adrien.)
On what day(s) does she celebrate in non-Leap Years?
Marzolf: "My mom has always celebrated it February 28, because she thinks it should stay in the correct month, and my dad and I prefer to celebrate on March 1, because it's the day the 29th would be. But everyone else is just confused and uncomfortable about which day to send birthday wishes and such, so I have decided to exploit that and celebrate both days."
Most-heard birthday joke:
"How do you function so well as a toddler?"
Do forms or official documents ever pose a problem?
M: "I've never had an issue with official forms. In years that aren't Leap Year, I legally change age on the 28th. It poses more of a problem for memberships that have birthday rewards."
What are the biggest perks of having a Leap Day birthday?
M: "EVERYONE remembers your birthday, and it's kind of a big deal. My third-grade teacher still sends me cards when Leap Year rolls around. And over all, I've noticed that people are excited when they find out my birthday, and that's sweet to see."
Her Public Service Announcement:
M: "EVERY Leap Year baby will have a 16th birthday on February 29 during a Leap Year. Every single one. No need to ask. 😊"
John McClellan '98
Age This Year: 56 (his fourteenth Leap Year birthday)
McClellan was an Army ROTC Captain by the age of eight?
Sort of. He taught Army ROTC at Brockport from 1994 to 1997. On Leap Day in 1996, McClellan celebrated his 32nd birthday (eighth Leap Year birthday) on campus.
How did early Internet functionality impact leaplings?
McClellan: "Back at the time when I was at SUNY Brockport, the Internet and websites were just becoming mainstream. I remember as e-commerce got going that it was hard for a time entering a Leap Day birthday, because many websites had dropdowns for entering a birthday that only had 28 days for February, so there was no way to enter a correct birthday."
Off-year celebration ritual:
One shot of alcohol at midnight between February 28 and March 1
This year's plan:
M: "My wonderful wife is planning a party, so I'll have a whole day to celebrate!"
McClellan earned a Master of Public Administration at Brockport.
Senior Aris Rizzo
Age This Year: 28 (her seventh Leap Year birthday)
What experiences do leaplings share that no one else does?
Rizzo: "Being born on Leap Day makes an instant sense of community with others born on the same day. We get the same comments and jokes from friends and family, social media being confused on when to post our birthdays, being ID'd at bars if you turn 21 in a non-Leap Year."
In Leap Years, do leaplings go big? Nope, huge.
R: "This year, I am throwing a HUGE party at a popular wedding venue in Buffalo."
A serendipitous spin on grief:
Rizzo's grandfather passed away last year on March 1, which is the day Rizzo usually celebrates her non-Leap Year birthday.
R: "I think in a spiritual way, it happened so that my Leap Day birthday would be extra special this year, and I can find solace knowing my birthday will always be safe of the grief that March 1 brings."
Rizzo studies in the Department of Nursing.