On the Bright Side: Area parents welcome 'leapling' babies

ContributedShelby Brooks and Dakota Barringer of West Edmeston pose Tuesday with their newborn son, Knox Anthony Barringer, at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown. Knox was one of three local babies born on Leap Day.

Knox Anthony Barringer's parents celebrated his birth Monday at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, but they'll have to wait another four years until they can celebrate his official first birthday.

That's because Knox is one of an estimated 200,000 Americans whose birthday comes once every four years on Feb. 29, also known as Leap Day.

And Knox isn't the only one in the area. Two other “leaplings” were born Monday at UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital in Norwich, hospital officials said Tuesday.

Knox — who weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces — was supposed to be born Feb. 22, according to his mother, Shelby Brooks, 21, of West Edmeston. But he had other plans, Brooks said.

“It didn't occur to me that it's a leap year and that he would be born on the leap day,” Brooks said Tuesday. “I just wanted him to be healthy and he is. I didn't realize they had a little club for people with Leap Day birthdays. My mom looked it up and was researching it.”

Brooks said she and Knox's father, 19-year-old Dakota Barringer, have decided they will celebrate their little boy's birthday on Feb. 28 on non-leap years.

“March is a whole new set of birthday stuff, like birthstones, and that type of thing,” said Brooks, who works at a local nursing home. “We'd rather make it easy and just keep it in February."

Barringer, who works at Precisionmatics machine shop in West Winfield, said it's “pretty cool” to have a "Leap Day baby." His 3-year-old son, Aiden, has “mixed feelings” about the addition, Barringer said with a laugh, adding that Aiden “is going to be a little jealous at first.”

Leap years exist to ensure that the seasons remain aligned with the calendar, according to The Associated Press. Historians believe Julius Caesar came up with the initial adjustment, with further adjustments made when the Gregorian calendar came along.

Two other Leap Day babies were born locally this year, according to hospital officials. Both were birthed at UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital in Norwich, according to Garry Root, director of community relations at the hospital. The mothers and babies are doing well.

Madilynn Prosser — who weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces — was born to parents Shana and Dustynn Prosser, according to Root. Madilynn will join an older brother at home.

And Connor Matthews was born to mother, Darcy Hoyt, and father, Craig Matthews, Root said. Connor weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and will join three older sisters at home. 

People born on Leap Day are known as “leaplings," according to “The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies," a website launched in 1997. Knox, Madilynn and Connor join a relatively small crew of celebrities with the birthday, including Pope Paul III, American football player Bryce Paup, professional ice hockey player Robert Sanguinetti and rapper Ja Rule.

According to the AP, birth certificates and most government agencies like Social Security use Feb. 29 for those born on Leap Day, but leaplings occasionally encounter bureaucratic difficulties using their true birth dates. Some computerized drop-down menus don't include Feb. 29. 

But there are also perks.

This year, several businesses in the central New York region offered specials for leaplings, according to their websites. Olive Garden offered four free desserts to anyone with a Feb. 29 birthday, and Destiny USA in Syracuse provided free Fun Day passes, valet parking and unlimited rides on the mall's famous carousel.

"We haven't thought about any of that," Brooks said.

As he grows up, Knox may or may not receive such special treatment, but for now his parents will settle for some rest and a hearty meal.

"They're having a special dinner for Shelby and me tonight," Barringer said Tuesday. "It's supposed to be prime rib."

Jessica Reynolds is a staff writer for The Daily Star. Contact her at jreynolds@thedailystar.com or on Twitter at @DS_JessicaR.

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