While many of us celebrate birthdays year after year, the Feb. 29 birthdate stands apart. It comes only once every four years.
Ruth Kelly of Cortland says that even though her birthday is on leap year, she celebrates it every year.
"I was born in Somerset, Pa., and when I originally lived there, the lawyer of our community would take all the people with leap year birthdays out to dinner every four years," Kelly said.
Warren resident Sheri Armstrong is shown on her 40th birthday — or 10th, depending on how you’re counting — in 2004. For her leap year birthday, her mother and sister surprised her at work with gag gifts suitable for a 10-year-old.
Arlo Culp of Warren was given the nickname "Baby New Year" because of his Feb. 29 birthday.
"I enjoy having a leap year birthday," Culp said. "I tell everyone I just don't get older. It's special knowing that you have a birthday every four years."
Culp, a firefighter for Warren Township for almost 30 years, sees his Feb. 29 birthday as a special time to celebrate with friends and family.
The science behind Feb. 29
So why does leap year occur? Dr. Patrick Durrell, professor of astronomy and planetarium director at Youngstown State University said that leap year is a correction factor.
"Our calendar is 365 days and the earth takes 365 and a quarter days to go around the sun," Durrell said. "Every four years, this builds one day out of sync. If we didn't add that extra day every four years, our calendars would be off track. We would have hot summer days in December and cold winter days in July. This extra leap year day keeps our calendar on track."
Events that happened on Feb. 29
1504 - Christopher Columbus uses his knowledge of a lunar eclipse that night to convince Native Americans to provide him with supplies.
1892 - St. Petersburg, Fla., is incorporated.
1940 - For her role as Mammy in "Gone with the Wind," Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African American to win an Academy Award.
1960 - Family Circus makes its debut.
Famous Feb. 29 babies
1468 - Pope Paul III
1904 - Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft Sr., Germany; had a Christian name for every letter in the alphabet, shortened it to Mr Wolfe Plus 585 Sr. He is known for having the world's longest name officially used by a person.
1916 - Dinah Shore, American singer and actress
1960 - Tony Robbins, American motivational speaker
1972 - Antonio Sabato Jr., Italian-born actor
1972 - Pedro Zamora, Cuban-born American AIDS activist
1976 - Ja Rule, American rapper and actor
The Feb. 29
All those with Feb. 29 birthdays are invited to join the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies. More information is available at leapyearday.com/feb29/home
"I get together with my friends to go out to dinner and then smoke a cigar, or my kids will make me dinner," Culp said.
Jamie Seabolt feels like was just yesterday that her daughter, Shaelley Allen, was born. Allen will be turning 12 years old on Feb. 29.
"For the years in between leap year, we celebrate Shaelley's birthday on the 28th of February," Seabolt said. "We usually have a slumber party at our house full of pre-teen girls who have been Shaelley's friends."
Tom Anderson of Boardman, originally of Warren, said his wife is throwing him a huge party this year.
"Having a leap year birthday provides a small bit of notoriety in an otherwise routine life," Anderson said. "I always celebrate my birthday on Feb. 28 or on March 1 during the off years. My real birthday is something to look forward to."
Anderson is the chief copy editor of the Tribune Chronicle, where he has worked for 37 years.
"This year will mark my 15th birthday," Anderson said. "When people would find out that my birthday was on the 29th, they would divide my age by four. I've heard this all my life. It gets old, but I laugh at it anyway.
''My friends used to joke when I was 12 years old that I had three birthdays. I would just take it lightheartedly."
Sherry Armstrong of Warren said she feels happy when she looks at her calendar and sees that there are 29 days of February. Armstrong will be turning 48 on Feb. 29. She has plenty of fond memories of her leap year birthdays.
In 2004, she was featured in a leap year birthday story in the Tribune Chronicle.
"My mom and sister came to my job at RMI Filters in Champion," Armstrong said. "I remember a reporter came with them and interviewed me and took my picture.
''My mom and sister arranged the whole thing. They got me a birthday Barbie doll, a stuffed California Raisin, a birthday hat, cake and balloons. I was '10' at the time, going on 40. My mom and sister totally pulled one on me."
Charles Steen of Champion is happy about his birthday this year, and his family makes an effort to make his birthdays special moments. During off years, Steen's family usually celebrates on Feb. 28 or March 1.
"Usually my family celebrates my birthday more on my actual leap year birthday," Steen said. "My family gets me cake and ice cream on my birthday. I will be 84 this leap year."
Stephanie Cross and her fiance John Pappas are celebrating leap year by getting married. The couple will wed at St. James Meeting House at Boardman Park in Boardman.
Cross and Pappas, who met while working at West Corp., were inspired to pick a unique day to get married.
"When my fiancee and I were dating, we talked about days people usually get married, such as Valentine's Day," Cross said. "We talked about getting married on leap year day as a joke."
Well, that joke became a reality.
"I just like the idea of getting married on leap year," Cross said. "I am excited that I am getting married on more than just a typical day."
Cross also said that getting married on leap year makes the experience special because there will not be an anniversary for the couple to celebrate every year. The anticipation of that special day every four years can make the experience a gem in itself.
Sue Cross of Warren, Stephanie Cross's mother, said she is excited that her daughter chose such a unique day for a wedding.
"I am really happy for both of them," Sue Cross said. "Stephanie is our only daughter. We are looking forward to their wedding, and I wish them both a long and happy life."