In 1988, Mary Ann Brown, a 1932 Leap Year Baby, formed the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club. She took her idea to the Anthony Chamber of Commerce and proposed her city claim the title “Leap Year Capital of the World.” The Chamber followed through and sponsored a festival to celebrate this unusual date. The then-Governors Garrey Carruthers, New Mexico, and William B. Clemens, Texas, joined in proclaiming that title for Anthony. Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico read it into the Congressional Record on October 14, 1988.
The length of the festival depends on what day of the week February 29 falls and the goal is to have the largest number of Leap Year birthday celebrants ever gathered in one place.
Leap Year 2000 was a unique celebration of the Millennium. It marked the first Leap Year to fall in the century year since 1600. In addition, it was only the second Leap Year Day to be celebrated in a century year since Pope Gregory XIII adjusted the Gregorian Calendar in 1582 to accurately account for the 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 6 seconds which it takes for the world to make one complete revolution around the sun. Century years that cannot be divided evenly by 400 are not Leap Years. It is just one of the odd details in the calculation of time designed to keep the calendar in sync with the equinox.” So, along with the unique celebration we learn unique information.
Applicants for membership in the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club have included individuals from across the United States as well as from Germany, England, Canada, Norway and Mexico. People have come from Munchen, Germany, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Wisconsin, California, Illinois, New Mexico and Texas to celebrate their Leap Year birthdays, and even wedding anniversaries, at the Worldwide Leap Year Festival at Anthony.
The Leap Year 2000 Festival included a Leap Year Day Parade, Hot Air Balloon lift off, Chuck Wagon Breakfast, hayrides, Antique Tractor Show, golf tournament, Huacha (Washer) Tournament, tours of the valley, Golden Oldies ‘Big Band of the Rio Grande’ Concert and dance, Square Dancing, 10K Run, 2 mile walk, carnival, petting zoo, juried Arts and Crafts Festival, International Food Booths, fireworks, and it was, of course, the biggest Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Party ever held. A special feature was a personal concert by Graham Nash of “Crosby, Stills and Nash.”
Now that someone has made Leap Year Birthdays special, anyone born on February 29 anywhere in the world is eligible for membership in the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club that has grown from 0 to 300 paid members since 1988. Dues are only $20 every four years for a membership certificate and a t-shirt. Send for an application to: Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club, P O Box 1086, Anthony, New Mexico-Texas, USA 88021.