It's why Ty Hagen, 12, of Claysburg, isn't too old to have a Mickey Mouse-themed birthday party.
It's why Luke Knisely, 8, of East Freedom, jokes that he's actually younger than his 3-year-old brother, Cole.
It's why Marjorie Beigle, 84, of Altoona, can say that she's just coming of "legal age."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Ty Hagen, 12 (or 3, depending on how you are counting), celebrated his birthday on?Saturday afternoon with a party at the Summit Tennis & Athletic Club. Hagen was a Leap Year baby.
Hagen, Knisely and Beigle are just a few area residents who celebrate leap year birthdays - the reason they can joke about being just one-fourth of their real age. According to infoplease.com, an estimated 4 million people worldwide share the luck.
Only once every four years does the calendar turn to their real birthdate, Feb. 29, as it did today. This is why Knisely's mom, Amy, is trying to make her son's "second" birthday a memorable one.
"Every child is special, but he's a little more special," she said. "He's quite a character, so he eats up the uniqueness of it."
You're how old?
Other locals with Leap Year birthdays:
* Kerry Kennedy, turning 40, Altoona
* Steve Stacey, turning 64, Altoona
* Pam Fasick, turning 56, McVeytown
* Walter (Jerry) Fleming, turning 56, Altoona
* Amy Miller, turning 52, Hollidaysburg
Luke was supposed to be born on March 5, and Amy was worried when he came a little early - the only baby born at Nason Hospital on Feb. 29, 2004.
"It's confusing when they're young to try to explain to them how the calendar works and why there is a leap year," she said.
But the family embraced Luke's special day, having him wear No. 29 in Little League and discovering facts like how in the Chinese culture, it's viewed as the luckiest day to be born.
"There's always a 29th on our February calendar," Amy added.
When it's not a leap year, Amy said that they celebrate on the nearest weekend.
Twenty-year-old Stephanie Bosak, originally of Altoona but now a student at Slippery Rock University, said she usually celebrates on Feb. 28, the date that she was legally able to do things such as get her learner's permit for driving.
Growing up with a leap year birthday has definitely been "interesting," she added.
"When you tell people, they don't believe it," Bosak said. "They're like 'Wait, you don't have a birthday every year?'"
Though she usually had parties every year, Bosak said her leap year birthdays were always the most memorable. For her fourth birthday, family members bought her presents suitable for a 1-year-old as a joke.
"I remember I cried and cried," Bosak said. "I was like 'I'm a big girl. I want big girl presents.'"
Now for her "fifth" birthday, Bosak will celebrate with a princess-themed bash with her college roommates.
"I told them they have a lot to live up to, because my leap year birthdays have always been my favorite," she said.
Beigle said she enjoys having a leap year birthday because over the years, she's found that more people remember it.
"It was sort of exciting, and really something to look forward to," she said.
"So many people remember that you only hear from from time to time," she said.
In the past, Beigle said she's sometimes celebrated her birthday over two days on both Feb. 28 and March 1. This year, she will celebrate her "21st" birthday by going out to dinner with family and friends.
"You get another year older, regardless what day it comes on," she said.
Amy Miller of Hollidaysburg said growing up with a leap year birthday has been "nothing special," but has enjoyed telling people she's turning "13" this year.
"It's nice to be a teen when you turn 52," she joked.
Miller has also been able to share her Leap Year birthdays with her friend, Amy Ruggles of East Freedom, as the two were born on the same day. Miller said they met in homeroom in seventh grade. At first, she was just excited to meet another girl named Amy, then they found out they also had the same special birthday.
"We discovered we had a lot in common, so we've been friends ever since," Miller said.
The two friends usually try to get together some time before Feb. 28 each year to celebrate, Miller said.
For Hagen, who celebrated his "third" birthday with a party at The Summit Tennis & Athletic Club in Altoona on Saturday, having a "special birthday" has been enjoyable.
"It's pretty fun," he said.
Hagan's mom, Jess Cooley, said she always tries to do something big for him when they can celebrate his "actual" birthday.
"I think it makes him feel special," she said. "I kind of feel special being his mom."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.