Leaplings notch up rare birthday parties

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Meet the oldest two-, three- and 20-year-olds in town. 

Queenstown’s Jack Pear­­­son, Luke Price and Glenorchy’s Eileen Todd are known as leaplings – born on February 29, a date that only occurs during a leap year once every four years. 

Yesterday they got to celebrate their real birthdays. 

Jack actually turned eight, Luke turned 12 and Eileen marked her 80th. 

They’re among 2500 Kiwis who are leaplings, a Statistics New Zealand spokeswoman says. 

Jack, a Remarkables Primary pupil, and Luke, who attends Queenstown Primary, say they normally have their birthday on either February 28 or March 1 but enjoy being a leapling. 

“You feel really special because there aren’t many people who get to be born on that day – it only happens once every four years,” Luke says. 

Jack made a poster about leap years to take to his class yesterday. 

“Leap years were invented so the early calendars could catch up with how many days it takes for the earth to go round the sun,” he says. 

Wakatipu hospitality legend Eileen celebrated her 20th actual birthday with friends and family at home. 

The former owner of the Arthurs Point Hotel recalls one of the reasons her late husband Jock married her was because she had a birthday every four years. 

“Every other year I just ignore it and so did my husband, but on that fourth year he used to buy me a present -sometimes.”