A billboard advertising Anthony, N.M./Texas as the Leap Year Capital of the World is pictured around the time of the first leap year event in 1992. Although the billboard is no longer there, the cities still celebrate those born on Feb. 29.
The border-straddling towns of Anthony, Texas, and Anthony, N.M., are once again inviting international notoriety and welcoming leaplings — people born on Feb. 29 — to celebrate at the Leap Year Capital of the World.
Week-long events began Saturday and included a car show, a golf tournament and an ice hockey game.
The fanfare is a giant leap from the humble origins in 1988 when Mary Ann Brown, born Feb. 29, 1932, read a news story stating that her neighbor, Birdie Lewis, was also a leap year baby.
“I went across the street and said to Birdie, ‘You know, I’m a leap year baby, too. Let’s go to the chamber of commerce and see if we can make this a promotional thing for the town.’ That’s just what we did,” she said, and founded the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club.
Subsequently, the chamber, along with the governors of New Mexico and Texas and the mayor of Anthony, Texas, proclaimed Anthony, N.M./Texas the Leap Year Capital of the World, and in October 1988, former Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) read the proclamation into the Congressional Record.
With no budget, that first birthday club in 1992 was held at Anthony Auto Parts, the family store run by Mary Ann's late husband, Joe Bob Brown, and attracted nine people who gathered for punch and cake. The festival has been growing in leaps and bounds ever since. This year, Brown is hoping for more than 100 leaplings to partake.
Anthony isn’t the only place where leap year is something special. The Z NYC Hotel in Long Island City, for example, is offering a “Leap Over To The Z” package offering free accommodations for anyone born on Feb. 29. A second night is just $229 and has $29 dinner for two at its Diner 247.
But you’ll have to be in Anthony to enjoy the cosmic quirkiness of leap year.
Entertainment will be provided by BarTab. Singer-songwriter Derek Apodaca, on vocals, was born Feb. 29, 1988. “We’re really excited,” Apodaca told msnbc.com. “My family’s griping that I won’t be spending my leap year birthday with them, but this is going to be a lot of fun.”
BarTab is following in some big musical shoes. Graham Nash of the iconic group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young headlined the festival in 2000.
Turns out Nash is married to leapling Susan Nash, who contacted Mary Ann Brown and asked if her husband could perform at the festival as a birthday present.
"My mom had no idea who he was," said Jerry Garland Brown, Mary Ann's son, "but she said, 'Sure, tell him he and his friends are welcome to come on down.'"
“He played ‘Our House,’ ‘Teach Your Children,’ and so many great hits,” he said. “He told stories about all the songs and some of them were so beautiful they brought tears to our eyes."
Wednesday's festivities will start off with a one-mile parade "starting in New Mexico and ending in Texas," Mary Ann Brown said, and will end with a birthday party — which unlike some of us, is something leaplings do not take for granted.
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