People born on ‘Leap Day’ are in an exclusive club

Published 9:46 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aaliyah McClary is a high school student, but she’s only turning 4 years old today.

Linda Mayfield Little has been out of high school for many years, but she’s only 15.

Little’s sister, Vivian Knight, was born on the same day four years apart — an amazing feat, considering the day comes around only once every four years.


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These three women all have their birthday in common. It’s an exclusive club of Leap Day babies.

Aaliyah’s mother, Marquita McClary, said she didn’t want her daughter to be born on Feb. 29.

“I was so afraid,” she said. “I did not want to have her (on Leap Day), because I didn’t want her to not have a birthday.”

McClary went into labor about 7 p.m. on Feb. 29, 1996. A relative said, “Oh, don’t worry. It’s your first baby, so it’s going to take a long time,” she recalled recently.

“She told a story,” McClary said, laughing.

Aaliyah’s birth went quickly, but it sped up significantly when her heart rate began dropping and doctors did an emergency Cesarean section. She almost had the perfectly normal birthday of March 1, but it was not to be — she was born at 11:57 p.m. on Feb. 29.

“Most people don’t believe it when I tell them,” Aaliyah said.

Even Facebook didn’t believe her. The social networking site initially wouldn’t allow her to post her birthday as Feb. 29, so she listed it as Feb. 27. Because the site limits the number of times users can change their birthday, it is now stuck like that.

“I celebrate my birthday on the 28th, normally,” she said. “When the 29th comes, I just celebrate it then. It’s cool, because I’m the only one in my class with that birthday.”

Vivian Knight and Linda Mayfield Little, two of 12 children of the late Sylvester and Alease Mayfield of Suffolk, managed to have the Feb. 29 birthday four years apart.

“I don’t know how my mom and dad planned it,” Little said.

With so many siblings, the two girls grew up with plenty of teasing about their unusual birthday.

“They’d say, ‘You don’t get a birthday this year,’” Little said. “But we would still have parties and get gifts.”

Their parents were a little nicer about the whole thing.

“They gave us a cake around the 28th,” Knight said. “They still tried to make us feel like we had a birthday, even though it wasn’t on the calendar.”

Knight said she usually celebrates on March 1 when it’s not a Leap Year. For Little, it varies.

“I usually celebrate it the 28th or sometimes March 1,” she said. “It depends how I feel. Sometimes, I celebrate twice.”

But for all three women, they have an extra-special celebration every four years when they actually get a birthday.

Four years ago, Aaliyah’s mother tried to have a birthday party at the YMCA pool for her daughter, but the woman in charge cringed when she saw the birthday cake — with a candle in the shape of a “3.”

“She said, ‘We don’t have birthday parties for 3-year-olds,’” McClary said. The woman likely was picturing 25 3-year-olds at the pool with only two lifeguards scheduled, she added.

But McClary soon reassured her. “Oh, don’t worry. She’s actually 12.”

Happy birthday to Aaliyah, Little, Knight and all the other Leap Day babies out there.