It only comes around every four years, so why not make the most of it? We’ve got all kinds of fun ideas to celebrate Leap Day (February 29th), and they’re bound to keep the kids smiling until at least 2024.
Before jumping into all the fun activities, we wanted to know…”What exactly is Leap Day and why does it only happen every four years?” The next time February 29 will exist on our calendars will be in 2024, just like the U.S. Presidential Elections and the Summer Olympic Games.
History of Leap Day
The ancient Egyptians first figured out the solar year and the man-made calendar year didn’t always match up. That’s because it takes the earth a little longer than a year to travel around the sun—365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be exact.
The Romans first designated February 29 as leap day, but a more precise formula (still in use today) was adopted in the 16th century when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four – 2020, 2024, 2028 etc. Another stipulation ruled that no year divisible by 100 would have a leap year, except if it was divisible by 400. Thus, 1900 was not a leap year… but 2000 was! Go figure.
Here’s 9 ways to celebrate Leap Day in Des Moines:
As Van Halen would say, “You might as well jump!”
What better place to celebrate Leap Day than at one of Des Moines’ many Indoor Play Spaces that feature bounce houses and trampolines? Get Air in Urbandale hosts “A Special Time Just for You” on Saturday mornings for jumpers with special needs and “Club Air” for teens on Saturday nights.
See a show that will make you leap to your feet.
There are several shows coming to Des Moines stages this Leap Day. Two that are particularly kid friendly is “The Amazing Max”, which is part of the Wellmark Family Series at the Des Moines Civic Center and “Tinker Bell” at the Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre at the Des Moines Playhouse.
Go on an old-school amphibious adventure.
Frogs tend to be the unofficial Leap Day mascot. And, if you grew up in the ‘80s, chances are you’re familiar with the old-school videogame Frogger. There are spots where you can still play it in Des Moines! Check out our round up of old school arcades and be sure to look both ways before crossing the street!
Load up on green gummies.
If you’re looking for sweet frog-themed eats, we’re all about the gummy frogs from Lolli and Pops in Jordan Creek Mall. This place is any kid’s dream, with chocolate, gummies, unique sodas and more. And, gummy frogs will probably go over way better than actual frog legs with your kids!
Have a laugh.
Entertainer Will Stuck brings stories, songs, science, and silly surprises to the Urbandale Library during Winter Wonder Laughs! The perfect way to chase away the winter blues on Leap Day.
Jump off the deep end.
Visit a local indoor water park or pool and let the kids perfect their cannon balls, dives, or backflips into the water. Both Urbandale Public Pool and Johnston Summit Pool are hosting public swim times on Leap Day.
Take a leap of faith.
What better day is there to try something new than a day that only comes once every four years? Eat out at a new restaurant and try a new type of food or cuisine or take a class together as a family to learn a new skill.
On February 29th, geocachers can find special souvenirs in honor of Leap Day. Just think of it as a bonus day for geocaching!
Watch the movie Leap!
If you’re looking for something to do a little closer to home, you can watch the movie Leap! on Netflix. It’s about a wannabe ballerina’s escape from an orphanage to pursue her dream as a dancer in Paris. Rated PG.
We also put together a fun list for Leap Day back in 2016. Several of the ideas are still appropriate to celebrate the day this year.
Does your family celebrate or acknowledge Leap Day in any way? Let us know!