Happy 20th: One birthday every four years has its advantages

SANDUSKY Maria Riojas considers herself much wiser than the average 20-year-old. She
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Maria Riojas considers herself much wiser than the average 20-year-old.

She will be celebrating her 20th birthday today even though she is actually 80 years old. Since Feb. 29 only comes around once every four years, Riojas has happily claimed her teenage status for years.

"At least I get my own day once every four years," she said.

On the years that didn't include a Feb. 29 on the calendar, her family combined her birthday with another family member's.

"When I was growing up I had a brother that was born on March 3 so we just celebrated it together," she said. "When you don't have a birthday, they don't want you to feel left out."

Since then, Riojas' family has made every effort to make her birthdays special.

"The biggest birthday I had was my 16th. I was actually 64," she said. "They made me a big party with a lot of balloons and friends."

She said funny moments have arisen through the years when people asked her age.

When she was renewing her driver's license and told the employee her age was 36-9-40.

"He said, 'What is that, your measurements?' I told him, 'I'm 36 years old, I turned 9 on my last birthday, and I'll be 40 years old on my next birthday," she said.

Other area residents enjoy the same leap year humor.

Twelve-year-old Kaitlyn Fitzthum celebrated her birthday earlier in the month, and today, her father, Jude Fitzthum, will celebrate his 12th official birthday as well.

Kaitlyn said being "older" than her dad is fun because not many other people can say that.

Growing up, Jude celebrated his birthday on Feb. 28 on the off years.

"My mom always made it extra special for me in my older years by sending me cards with the age of my actual birthday," he said.