Saturday, March 1, 2008
Leap Day Babies Get Their Birthday Celebrations in the Twin Towns of Anthony
By Rene Romo
Journal Southern Bureau
ANTHONY If your birthday appeared on the calendar only once every four years, you might try something extravagant, too, when the blessed day Feb. 29, leap day finally rolled around.
So it was for Tampa, Fla., resident Ruth Foss, who found herself Friday riding on a float in a parade down the main boulevard of the twin towns of Anthony, N.M., and Anthony, Texas, in a lighthearted celebration of leap day.
"It's all about us," said Foss, sitting on a float with other "leap year babies" one who traveled here from Irving, Texas; another from Illinois.
The two Anthonies, which hug the Texas-New Mexico border, bill themselves as the Leap Year Capital of the World, and Friday marked the sixth celebration of leap day since 1988.
Foss, who turned 44, or 11 in leap years, said she was looking for a special way to celebrate her birthday this year when she remembered reading about the funky festival in New Mexico.
"I went on the Internet looking for that town that does that crazy thing, and I found it and here I am," Foss said.
Laguna Pueblo resident Kaweshchima Fry, celebrating his first leap day birthday, was not interested in the parade. Crying, he pointed to the site of a nearby carnival. "She won't let me go over there," Fry said of his mother, Shayai Lucero.
A 29th day is added to February every four years to ensure the calendar stays aligned with the amount of time it takes for the Earth to rotate around the sun 365 and a quarter days.
Celebration founder Mary Ann Brown, who turned 19 in leap years Friday, said about 110 people with leap day birthdays were at the festival.
They attended a barbecue on Thursday, followed by a mariachi concert. On Friday, they rode in the parade, then attended a dinner complete with a slice of birthday cake.
Today, La Mesa resident Margaret Evaro, who turned 16, or 64 in regular years, will celebrate with her family and eat more cake.
"I think that will be enough celebrating," she said.