• By David T. Valentin

Underground Societies: The Leapers


When journalist Gabrielle Calise stumbled upon an old, grainy, black and white photo featuring a couple, John and Sarah, standing in front of a billboard that read, “John Loves Sarah and will prove it on Feb. 29, 1992, ”it immediately peaked Calise’s curiosity. She wondered why anyone would choose February 29th? Especially when it came only once every four years. Thus her search began. And after her trail ran cold on John and Sarah, she ended up with something far more intriguing than she ever expected.

She discovered a whole group of people who called themselves “leapers.”

Her first run in with a leaper was a man named Peter Laches, a Tampa ‘leaper’ who works at MacDill Air Force Base.

Laches explained to Calise how, every four years, “Laches’ friends choose ‘age appropriate’ gifts to match how old he is turning in leap years. Think coloring books, a ball on a rubber band, a gyroscope.”

Luckily for Laches, this year he will be celebrating his birthday with another leaper, his cousin’s wife Paula Smyth. Coincidentally, Paula was born in the same year as Laches.

One thing lead to another and Laches ended up pointing Calise to a Facebook group known as the ‘leapers,’ a group of people who were born on February 29th and find strange and exotic ways to celebrate their unique birthday. The Facebook group is filled with tons of ‘leapers’ themed stuff, like “Leap Year Day Music, Leap Day rocks where members decorate stones with ‘leapyearday.com’ and hide them around their cities, and even parents of Leap Day babies.”

And it all lead back to one online group known as The Honor Society of Leap Day Babies.

Back in 1988, a woman known by the name of Raenall Dawn started the group eight leap years ago back in 1988. Within the community she’s known as “Her Royal Leapness.”

And while it may all sound nutty and a bit narcissistic at first, the founding of The Honor Society of Leap Day Babies has a wholesome twist to it.

“It’s not only our birthday,” Dawn told Calise. “Leap day is everyone’s extra day. Do something good with it.”

Isn’t that something? So, what will you be doing on your one, wild, extra day?

The full article can be read here: https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida/2020/02/27/a-florida-leap-year-mystery-led-us-to-a-universe-of-february-29-fans/