Suwannee Democrat

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February 29, 2012

Those born on Leap Day celebrate rare birthday

ANDERSON, Ind. — With birthday glee, Wendy McClurg opened bright pink gift bags, pulling out Barbie doll after Barbie doll.

"Yes, another one for my collection," she shouted, stroking the box for a "Fashionista Barbie." A few feet away sat Barbie cake and cards wishing the Anderson woman a happy 10th birthday.

Her daughter — yes, her daughter — ran by, dressed in a frilly Barbie outfit.

Stopping her high-energy play for a moment, 6-year-old Ava simply said, "I don’t get it. She’s married, has kids and she’s only 10! She can’t even drive yet."

Ava hadn’t yet mastered the concept of the Earth’s revolution around the sun taking a little more than 365 days, but she does know that her mom has an extra special birthday — Leap Day.

McClurg, born in 1972, said as a child she would celebrate her birthday during non-Leap Years on Feb. 28. (Why wait an extra day and go to March 1?)

But as an adult she doesn’t bother celebrating her birthday unless it really is her birthday — Feb. 29. And when she does get a "real birthday" every four years, she expects it to be extra special, McClurg joked.

This year she celebrated her 10th (or 40th) birthday with family and friends on Saturday at her mother’s Anderson home. The theme was that of many 10-year-olds, Barbie.

Also nearby was son Ian, who gets some good-natured ribbing for being, at 14, "older" than his mom.

McClurg’s mother, Teresa Chapin, said that when she  gave birth on Leap Day, she hoped the day would always be extra special for her. And over the years, McClurg got a lot of attention for her Leap Day birthday, so much so that her little brother — Sam Folsom — was a little jealous.

"He got so upset one year that I told him his birthday was special too," Chapin said. "I told him he was born on the king’s birthday. He didn’t even know who the king — Elvis Presley — was, but he told everyone he would be in the newspaper, too, because he had the king’s birthday."

On her previous birthday — her ninth (or 36th), McClurg’s family made sure she was greeted with a different Barbie everywhere she turned — from the front door to under her pillow in bed. There were dozens of the dolls.

"It’s always a lot of fun," she said. "I guess it’s always been something special for me."

Kelly Fiechter knows that feeling. She's celebrating her sixth (or 24th) birthday with her husband today.

"Growing up, every time I had my actual birthday, my parents always made a really big deal of it," she said. "It always made me feel special. I got a lot of attention from it."

The Anderson woman joked that she’s been milking this birthday for the past week and will continue to do so.

"It’s my birthday and I haven’t had one in three years, so you have to be extra nice to me," Fiechter said with a laugh. "I guess I still feel special because of it."

Fiechter’s parents chose for her to be born that day as her mother had a planned cesarean section.

"It wasn’t really fate for me, but them making that choice made it feel even more special," she said. "They thought it would be neat to have a child born on a Leap Day."

Meeting other people born on Leap Day has always been fun for Fiechter.

"It’s like we are in a special club together," she said.

---

Abbey Doyle is a reporter for the Anderson, Ind., Herald Bulletin.

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