It’s a rare occurrence — just 1 in 1,461 odds — to be born on Leap Day, and while the rest of the population just sees it as another day, those born on Feb. 29 have a lot to look forward to.
Leaplings, as they are called, finally got to celebrate their birthday on Saturday since Feb. 29 only comes around (almost) every four years to ensure the Earth’s movement around the sun stays in line with the calendar year.
It’s a fascination to many who don’t have the unique birthday, with leapers often being asked the same question: “How old are you really?”
Savannah Viggiano, of Wantage, celebrated her first birthday on Saturday, even though she is technically 4 years old, having been born on Feb. 29, 2016. In fact, Savannah was the first baby born on Leap Day in Sussex County in 2016 — and mom, Desiree Viggiano, said she was one of several other moms who delivered that same day.
“She was actually due a week later but I had some complications and they took her a little bit early,” said Desiree Viggiano.
Viggiano said halfway through her pregnancy, she had a dream that Savannah would be born on Leap Day, calling it a “strange” premonition that she can only laugh about now.
“It was weird; a couple days before Leap Day, the doctor decided they wanted to induce me, so they took me in on Feb. 28, and I was hoping she would be born by the end of the day,” Viggiano said.
It wasn’t that she cared what day her daughter was born, but Viggiano said she wanted to be able to give her daughter a “consistent” birthday each year. Her husband, Shawn, however, was hoping for the 29th.
Savannah was born at 1 a.m. on Feb. 29.
While there may be a few small downsides to being a leapling — what day do you celebrate your birthday? — a positive is that you age much slower than others, or at least that’s what leapers like to insist.
During a birthday celebration with family on Saturday, Savannah, who has two older siblings, enjoyed a unicorn cake — and declaring that she turned one.
“She said, ’Mommy, I sure had to wait a long time for my birthday!’” Viggiano said.
Makayla Van Blarcom, of Vernon, celebrated her eighth birthday on Saturday — but only her second Leap Year birthday.
Born in Newton Medical Center in 2012, Makayala’s mom, Amy Van Blarcom, was “a bit taken aback” when she was told by a doctor she would have to be induced on Feb. 29.
The thought of her not having a birthday on the calendar every year seemed sad to Van Blarcom and her husband, Kevin, but they “quickly realized how special and unique it really is,” Amy Van Blarcom said.
Van Blarcom said Makayla, who took cupcakes into school Friday, loves having her birthday on Leap Day and even sported a custom raglan T-shirt to school that read: “It’s my birthday, FINALLY!” with the date she was born underneath.
“She loves it and is proud to tell everyone that she is a Leap Year baby,” Van Blarcom said, adding that Makayla also loved telling everyone she was turning “two.”
While both parents say they couldn’t think of any real downside to having a Leap Day baby, they acknowleged filling out online forms can become a bit tricky since some drop-down tabs don’t have Feb. 29 available. Also, Van Blarcom said she was told her daughter would have to wait until March 1 to get her driver’s license.
But with some small downsides the day brings with it some silly jokes.
As she was checking out at the store with two balloons, one celebrating a “second” birthday and another celebrating an “eighth” birthday, Van Blarcom said the cashier did not “clip” the two balloons together assuming the balloons were for two different children, but when Van Blarcom told the cashier they were for her daughter’s Leap Year birthday, it left them both giggling.
Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.