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Where Is the “Leap Year Capital of the World”?

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 17, 2024
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It’s hard being a leap year baby. From only getting to celebrate your real birthday every four years to the constant jokes about whether you’re actually old enough to drive/vote/drink, there is plenty for “Leaplings” (also known as “29ers”) to grumble about.

But there’s at least one perk to having a birthday on February 29: a quadrennial celebration in the twin towns of Anthony, on the Texas-New Mexico border.

Every leap year since 1988, individuals sharing the calendar’s rarest date of birth have gathered for several days of festivities. Although the event has changed in recent years (sadly, the iconic parade is no more), the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Celebration continues to attract people born on February 29 from around the United States and the world, as well as friends, family, and the public.

Mary Ann Brown and Birdie Lewis, neighbors from Anthony who shared the unusual February 29 birthday, came up with the idea for the festival with the goal of fundraising for community projects and raising the profile of the Texas and New Mexico towns, along with celebrating the oddity of having a leap year birthday.

Perhaps the most notable iteration of the festival was the millennium leap year. For the 2000 event, Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash and his then-wife, Susan, attended the festival to celebrate Susan’s birthday. Susan wore a mermaid costume loaned by actress Bette Midler for the parade, while Graham Nash performed a free concert.

Leap year babies:

  • Festival founder Mary Ann Brown was born on February 29, 1932. She joked about officially turning 21 at the 2016 event, even though she was really 84 at the time. She died in 2021, having officially celebrated 22 Leap Day birthdays.

  • While a common calendar year has 365 days, a leap year has 366. The extra day is inserted because the actual length of time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun is 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes, and 9 seconds (known as a sidereal year). Without leap days, the seasons would gradually drift out of sync.

  • Having trouble remembering when a leap year falls? One big clue is that they nearly always align with presidential election years, though if it’s the final year of a century, it must be divisible by 400. For example, 2000 was a leap year, but 1900 was not.

  • The French newspaper La Bougie du Sapeur is published exclusively on leap days. This year’s issue will be its 12th edition.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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