History of the Leap Year Festival

Seeking a theme to promote their community, the Anthony Chamber of Commerce voted in 1988 to sponsor a "Worldwide Leap Year Festival" and "Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club." Based on this celebration and because no other place in the world regularly sponsors such an event, the Chamber claimed title and the then governors of New Mexico and Texas issued proclamations naming Anthony, New Mexico/Texas "Leap Year Capital of the World." Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico entered into the Congressional Record of the United States a request that Congress and the President join in the proclamation.

In 1988, with only one month to plan following the proposal of the project, the celebration was limited to a small birthday party. Even with such short notice nine people celebrated their Leap Year birthdays together and guests came from Deming, New Mexico and Amarillo, Texas, as well as Anthony, El Paso and Las Cruces. This is believed to have been the largest number of Leap Year Babies (29ers) ever gathered in one place.

In 1992, a few thousand people enjoyed a two-day festival with events including a parade, hot air balloons, a carnival, golf tournament, arts and crafts fair, "42" tournament (played with dominoes), hayrides and more. A new record was set with twenty three Leap Year celebrants sharing a huge birthday cake. "Twenty niners" came from California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, and one lady came from Munich, Germany.

The Chamber hopes to triple the number of Leap Year celebrants at the 1996 birthday party. They are adding several events to the festival which will encompass four days due to February 29 falling on Thursday. In January 1996 the Anthony, New Mexico Post Office was designated "Leap Year Station" and granted a commemorative postal cancellation.

Membership in the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club has grown from zero in 1988 to nearly 300 in 1996, including members born on every Leap Year in this century (there have been 23.) The members hail from almost every state in the Union, also from Germany, England, Norway, Mexico and Canada. With 9,792 babies born on February 29 in the United States alone in 1988, and a similar figure born on every Leap Year, the potential for membership is exciting and families and friends of 29ers are excited when they learn about the Leap Year Birthday Club and Festival.

More than 11,000 babies are expected to be born on February 29, 1996. The Chamber continues to seek out people born on February 29 for membership in the one and only "Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club." Dues are $20, renewable by Leap Year Day every four years.

For information:
Anthony Chamber of Commerce
Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club
P. O. Box 1086
Anthony, NM/TX 88021

Contact person: Mary Ann Brown
(915) 886-2540, work (915) 886-3933

Chamber telephone: (505) 882-5677
FAX: (505) 882-5777

Page author: Lyle Huber <lhuber(at)nmsu.edu>

Updated 2/27/96.

Worldwide Leap Year Festival