If a night of carousing with 90 of your closest friends at your very own bar sounds like a good time, then Chuck Miller is about to have the perfect 15th birthday party.
Mr. Miller plans to throw open the doors of the Arena Bar and Grill in Guelph, Ont., and roll out the welcome mat for anyone who wants to help him celebrate his big day. Hiring a band and printing t-shirts is the least he can do, he said, for an occasion that’s been 60 years in the making.
Mr. Miller is a leap year baby, the term commonly given to those who are born on the extra day in February that rolls around every four years.
After years of low-key celebrations, he said the time seemed right to use the bar he owns as the venue for an occasion that still feels fresh and exciting.
“I’m still thinking I’m young,” Mr. Miller said in a telephone interview. “The girls tell me I don’t look that old.”
Mr. Miller’s birthday bash is one in a series of events springing up coast to coast for those who come of age a little slower than the rest.
Social media and dedicated leap year websites have allowed the comparatively small community to join forces and put on the celebrations they often felt they were missing out on growing up.
Peter Brouwer helped launch one such website in 1997, the year after his 10th official birthday.
After 40 years of solitary festivities, the Vancouver native began reaching out to fellow leap year babies with little in mind beyond satisfying his curiosity about others who shared his unusual birth date.
After joining forces with Raenell Dawn of Los Angles, however, Mr. Brouwer helped launch the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, which now boasts more than 9,000 members worldwide.
Mr. Brouwer said the site has evolved into something of an advocacy organization, adding that widespread ignorance about Feb. 29 can make life complicated for those born on that day.
Insurance companies often fail to recognize the date as valid, he said, and even modern-day tech giant Google tripped him up and froze his profile when he registered a blog on the company’s platform.
The campaign to entrench “Leap Day” in popular culture is a call to action for everyone from bureaucrats to computer programmers, he said.
A day that four million people call their birthday, he argues, is worthy of at least the same treatment as Groundhog Day.
“We want people to understand Leap Day and to acknowledge it and to celebrate it and to recognize it when it’s there,” Mr. Brouwer said. “We want it to say ‘Leap Day’ on the little square in the calendar.”
Mr. Brouwer also glories in the novelty of his occasional birthday, turning the date into an excuse for an international jaunt.
Previous festivities have taken him to China and San Francisco, and he’ll be ringing in his 14th birthday today on the beaches of Florida.
Meanwhile in Guelph, although Mr. Miller’s bar bash has all the trappings of an adult party, the arrangements still feature one reminder that the birthday boy is very much in touch with his numerical age.
“We’re doing it from 7 to 11,” he said. “Because it’s a school night.”
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