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Leap legends: Find a husband, have a drink

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Friday, February 29, 2008

Yippee, it’s Leap Year!

That means we get an extra day to pursue our dreams, be with our families or catch up with our laundry.

To celebrate Leap Year, we’ve compiled a list of Leap facts, trivia and miscellany.

Leap Year …

-- Mascot: The frog. Frogs leap, get it?

-- Food: People born on Leap Year Day can get a free, single-topping, large pizza from Papa John’s. Go to and follow instructions.

The offer is only good online and only for Feb. 29.

-- Gifts: sells T-shirts, mugs, caps and a variety of other items with Leap Year slogans on them. The best one? “Be Nice To Me, My Birthday’s Not On the Calendar.”

-- Festival: The Sixth Worldwide Leap Year Festival, Feb. 28 to March 2. The festival is held in Anthony, a city on the New Mexico-Texas border.

Events include a get acquainted sessions for “Leapers,” a golf tournament, a parade featuring any Leapers who want to participate, hot air balloon rides, chuck wagon breakfast and a variety of games.

Birthday cake will be served.

“We have enjoyed the presence of honorees from a 4-year-old celebrating their first birthday to a 92-year-old celebrating his 23rd birthday,” it says on the festival Web site,

-- Celebrity birthdays: Composer Rossini, 1792; saxophonist and conductor Jimmy Dorsey, 1904; John “Pepper” Martin, 1904, National League stolen base leader in 1933, 1934 and 1936; Dinah Shore, 1916, actress, singer and talk show host; actor Dennis Farina, 1944; NFL linebacker Bryce Paup, 1968; Olympic curler Pete Fenson, 1968; motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, 1960; Rapper Ja Rule, 1976; actress Caitlin E.J. Meyer, 1992.

-- Tradition: Women are allowed to propose to men on Leap Day. It’s unclear where and when the tradition started.

-- Cocktail. This drink was created at the Savoy Hotel, London, on Feb. 29, 1928.

2 ounces gin

1/2 ounce Grand Marnier

1/2 ounce sweet vermouth

1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Serve with a twist of lemon.

-- Poem:

Thirty days hath September, April, June and November;

All the rest have thirty-one,

Save February, she alone hath eight days and a score

Til leap year gives her one day more.

-- In Science. Along with a Leap Year, scientists also have created a “leap second.” An organization called the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service is in charge of adding needed seconds to keep “Coordinated Universal Time” in sync with the motion of the sun.

For more information—or to be totally confused—go to

-- In movies: “Leap Year” is a silent film comedy directed by and starring Fatty Arbuckle. It’s about a young man who gets into trouble when he advises his friends about marriage.

-- In theater: In Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance,” Frederic, a pirate, wants to leave the pirating life and marry Mabel. Unfortunately, his apprenticeship binds him in service to the pirate king until his 21st birthday, and he won’t reach that until he is in his 80s.

The jokes are getting old—and so are the kids

Kristopher Kennedy, 5, is attending De Paul University in Chicago.

His sister, Kelsey, 4, is a sophomore at Craig High School.

The Kennedy children are bright, but not quite as bright as their ages make them seem.

Both were born on Leap Day, Kristopher in 1988; Kelsey in 1992. And they’re probably tired of hearing jokes about their ages.

The last time The Janesville Gazette wrote about the Kennedys, they were celebrating their second and fifth birthdays with a dinner out at Spirits in Janesville.

“It’s the first Leap Year birthday when they won’t be together,” their mother Karen Kennedy said.

To make up for it, the whole family got together last weekend at Joe Stone Crab’s in Chicago.

The Craig High School newspaper, the Criterion, wrote a story about Kelsey and her fellow Leapers, Chris Hein and April McCarthy.

“The headline says ‘Three Cougars Plan to Party Feb. 29,’” said Karen, sounding slightly chagrined.

Actually, Kelsey celebrated her sweet 16th early this month, attending a concert in Chicago with her friends.

And Kristopher reported that a group of his friends are heading to Chicago for a party this weekend.

Fixing the calendar

If the earth moved just a smidgen slower, we wouldn’t need a Leap Day.

But it seems like a bad idea to criticize the architect of the universe. Apparently, he’s kind of sensitive.

Here are the facts:

It takes the earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to go around the sun. Let’s call that a year and a fourth of a day.

The Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BC featured a 365-day calendar with an extra day every four years.

However, an extra day every four years is a just a few too many, and causes the calendar to slowly drift away from the seasons. With an extra day every four years, the summer equinox with eventually end up in August … then September … then, well you get the picture.

We can’t change the equinox, but we can change the calendar.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII and his subordinates thought up a new system: Leap Years must be divisible by 100 and by 400.

Why did the Pope care about the calendar? The dates of church holidays, such as Easter and Christmas, are connected with certain times of year.

Last updated: 4:04 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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