Leap Year: A Penn Connection
 The sculpture entitled Bolt of Lightning, 1984, by Isamu Noguchi is located at 6th and Vine Streets in front of the Ben Franklin Bridge. It symbolizes Franklin's discovery with the now famous kite and key combination. The Kite and Key Society at Penn was founded in 1924 and is one of the oldest and most presitgious student groups on campus. Currently the largest student organization, Kite and Key is dedicated to campus service and community involvement.

Leap Year only occurs in years divisible by four, with the exception of years ending in 00. They must be divisible by 400, therefore the year 2000 is a leap year and today is Leap Day. Leap Year only occurs in years that January 1 and December 31 fall on different days of the week. For example, this year January 1 was on a Saturday and December 31 will be on a Sunday.

In honor of Penn's founder, Ben Franklin, Almanac presents some little known facts about Leap Year.

  • It was in 1752, a Leap Year, that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity.
  • In 1912, another Leap Year, the Titanic sunk.

As for Leap Day events that changed the world:

  • In 1944, Dorothy Vredenburgh of Alabama became the first woman secretary of a national political party with her appointment by the Democratic National Committee.
  • In 1952, New York City installed four "Walk" and "Don't Walk" signs at 44th Street and Broadway in Times Square. Each sign flashed "Walk" for 22 seconds, then "Don't Walk" for ten seconds before the "Don't Walk" turned red for 58 seconds more.
  • In 1960, The White House issued a report on Leap Day that found U.S. children are overweight.
  • In 2000, the first Leap Year Day to land in a century year in 400 years and the first Leap Year in a millennium year ever. The second Almanac to be published at Penn on a Leap Day in 28 years; the last Leap Day to land on a Tuesday was in 1972 just one year after Almanac became a weekly publication.

Leap Day Babies are far and few between.

  • The chance of being born on Leap Day is 1 in 1461.
  • There are 684 Leap Day Babies per million people.
  • About 200,000 in the USA
  • About 4 million in the world.

These statistics are according to The Honor Society of Leap Day Babies web site, www.leapdaybabies.com which has more Leap Year links and facts for those who want all the details.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 23, February 29, 2000