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It’s finally birthday time!

Leap Year babies have to make do

-Submitted photo
Deb Dunham, of Webster City, stands for a photo with her dad during her birthday on Feb. 29, 1992. At the time, Dunham worked at Thompson Pharmacy in Webster City and the owners surprised her with a “fifth” birthday cake when she turned 20.

When Jordana Price makes a wish over her birthday cake on Saturday, there may only be seven candles to blow out.

That’s because the 28-year-old Fort Dodge woman has something in common with very few other people — she ages faster than she has birthdays.

Price was born on Feb. 29, 1992, meaning that although she’s been on this Earth for 28 years, she’s only had six other birthdays before this one.

Price is one of approximately 205,000 Americans who have Leap Day birthdays, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“When I was growing up, I was told, ‘Oh, you’ll only ever meet one other person born on Leap Day,'” she said. “I had actually started working at Fort Dodge Health and Rehab and my friend, who I met through work, was actually born the same year and the same day.”

Every year that wasn’t a leap year, Price celebrated her birthday on Feb. 28. She said when she was younger, she was teased by friends and classmates, who said she didn’t “really have a birthday” and that Feb. 28 isn’t her birthday.

But it wasn’t always like that.

“When I was in fifth or sixth grade, the school made a big ordeal about it,” Price said. “I remember them announcing my birthday over the intercom. And then when I was in high school, they did a big article on me for the Little Dodger.”

Whenever Price had a birthday during a leap year, her family tried making it special.

“Growing up, my mom’s theme for it was frogs, because it was frogs and a leap year,” she said. “Like my cake always had a frog and I remember my eighth birthday was themed with frogs.”

Having a birthday on a day that’s only on the calendar every four years can have some down sides, too.

“When I was growing up, my grandpa was like ‘Technically, you can’t drink (alcohol) until you’re 84 years old,'” she said.

When she did have her 21st birthday — which was not during a leap year — the bar she was celebrating at wouldn’t serve her until midnight on March 1, even though she traditionally celebrated on Feb. 28.

This year, Price just plans on celebrating her “seventh” birthday with friends and family.

Deb Dunham, a kindergarten teacher in Webster City, will be celebrating her 12th birthday on Leap Day this year.

Like Price, Dunham also chose to not celebrate her birthday on March 1.

“We just celebrated it on the 28th, so it would still be in February,” she said.

She said her family never really did anything extra special on her leap year birthdays.

“I just remember my grandpa and grandma always taking us to Shakey’s Pizza in Cedar Falls,” she said. “I lived in Shell Rock, so that’s where my special birthday would be.”

Now, she’s a kindergarten teacher at Pleasant View Elementary School in Webster City, and she said her students get a kick out of her unusual birthday.

“The more funny part was once I got into teaching kindergarten, I only lived two blocks from school and the kids knew that and saw me walking sometimes and didn’t think I was old enough to drive,” Dunham said.

While she’s only had 12 birthdays, including her upcoming birthday on Saturday, Dunham will be turning 48.

She said there have been some “glitches” that have been caused by having a Feb. 29 birthday.

“When the insurance companies were converting to have everything done on the computer, and my birthday being the 29th wasn’t an option in their system,” she said. “A few of them put me in as March 1, and I was like ‘No, my birthday is not in March.'”

Dunham remembers one birthday that was made extra special when she worked at the former Thompson Pharmacy, which was owned by Tom and Judy McLaughlin.

“One year, when I turned 5, Tom made me a special cake and cut it out in the shape of a five, which was actually my 20th birthday,” she said. “And at the store there, they put balloons up everywhere and he put a big banner across that said ‘Happy20th /5th birthday.’ He made that one pretty special.”

Another year, a parent in one of her classrooms gave her some leap year books to share and read with her class.

This year, Dunham plans on bringing treats in for her kindergarteners, just like she does every year.

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