Categories: Lifestyle

14 candles for 56-year-old’s cake

The chances of being born on leap day, which is February 29, are rare. Just one in 1,461 people can claim they are leap-year babies, but perhaps they are even more rare in St. Albert. Despite phone calls and emails to local school divisions and seniors’ homes and despite a general Tweeted plea, the Gazette was only able to find one local leapling, Garth Lane.

Lane was born 56 years ago on Feb. 29, 1956, but he’ll have only 14 candles on his birthday cake today.

He claims there are few perks to having a rare birthday, but at the same time, it’s a great conversation starter. Whenever he goes to register for something official, and must produce a drivers’ licence or birth certificate, people notice the date of his birth and ask him about it.

“They’ll see the birth day is Feb. 29, they’ll ask if I was born in a leap year and then the first thing they ask – every time – is, ‘so how old are you really?’ Then they’ll try to do the math and get all mixed up,” Lane said.

In addition, most computers kick out any forms listing his birthday and refuse to accept Feb. 29.

Lane, who has lived with his family in St. Albert since 1992, is partner in a risk management consulting insurance brokerage firm, Lloyd Sadd.

He was born at 1:03 p.m. in Edmonton General Hospital, and right off the bat, there were comments about the specialness of his birthday.

“My mom told me that it was such a unique event at the General Hospital that all the nurses came in to visit and say, ‘My God. He’s the first leap year baby we’ve ever seen.’”

Lane’s own research shows that about seven per cent of the population is born on Feb. 29 but he’s only ever known one person who shared his birth date.

“There was one kid who went to school with me in Dawson Creek. His name was David and it was Grade 1-6. But I’ve never met anyone else,” Lane said.

He checked online to find a list of famous people born on Feb. 29, but the only one that really jumped out was NHL star Henri Richard. The Pocket Rocket was born in 1936.

“I already knew about him because my dad was a big hockey fan and he noted it,” Lane said.

All his life family members have made a more-than-usual fuss about the date, Lane says, and always celebrate the day, even in the off years.

“On the leap year birthdays I always have the exact number of candles, which this year will be 14. But last year, for example, my wife put 13 candles plus a length candle,” he said.

A few years ago he joined the Honorary Society of Leap Year Day Babies website and received a couple of leap year shirts, which he plans to wear on the big day.

Other than that, it’s birthday as usual, Lane said.

“Let’s be honest. When you’re in your fifties, birthdays don’t mean as much. For me, it’s only in leap years that they have more importance.”

Susan Jones: Susan Jones has been a freelance writer for the St. Albert Gazette since 2009, following a 20-year career at the St. Albert Gazette. Susan writes about homes, gardens, community events and people.