Happy birthday – at last!

Stephan Vegelien

MOST little girls dream of a sixth birthday party with a jumping castle, cake and pink paper plates – and that is exactly what Chandre Houlie is planning.

Except, even though Houlie turns six today, she has been around for a bit longer – 24 years to be exact. That is because the Port Elizabeth automotive industry operator is a leap year baby.

Every leap year an additional day is added in February to compensate for the difference between solar years and calendar years.

Every year, the difference is six hours, or an additional 24 hours every four years.

For the people born on this day, it is always something special. Houlie is planning a big party for friends, with a children’s party theme.

“I don’t know if they will allow me to hire a jumping castle, though,” she said.

Twins Brad and Ross Greatorex will turn 12 today – or three in leap years. Friends liked to make fun of their age, but they always laughed it off, their mother Debbie said.

She said it was special that their children had been born in a leap year. The brothers will celebrate their birthday with family and friends.

Grandmothers Janette van der Merwe, 52, and Dolly Bush, 72, are reaching special milestones today.

“I’ll turn 13 today,” Van der Merwe said jokingly, adding that she could not wait to turn 18. “I will be able to vote in 20 years’ time, when I turn 18.”

And Bush is finally the legal age to drink and drive – albeit not at the same time.

“It is quite funny. My grandson couldn’t wait until he was older than me. Now he is 22 and I am 18,” she said.

Bush is having friends over for tea and her husband is taking her away for the weekend.

But it is not just a special day for birthdays.

Uitenhage resident Francois Greyling was married on the beach in Jeffreys Bay on February 29 2008. He and his wife are now celebrating their first anniversary.

The day marks another special occasion in his family – his stepmother’s 12th birthday.

“We wanted to get married in 2008. I looked at the calendar and thought, what a nice idea to get married on the 29th,” he said.

“As it is in a leap year, I remember it better.”

He said they normally celebrated on February 28, but this year would be a special celebration.

“We have decided to go on a trip to Spain as a second honeymoon. And I have some nice gifts for my wife and a romantic dinner planned.”

And, in keeping with leap year tradition, at least one Herald female reader will go down on bended knee with a difference today.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous to keep the proposal a surprise, met her man on Twitter and has chosen the popular social networking site to propose.

“Meeting on Twitter gave me the idea to use it for the proposal. Six friends are going to help and five minutes apart tweet him with one word.”

Her friends would use a special hash tag with their one word for the proposal.

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