‘Real life is for March’: Time capsules and 30 Rock parties mark Leap Day in Wisconsin

Third Space Brewing owner says Leap Day is 'a great excuse to have fun on an extra day'

Leap Day William.
Third Space Brewing in Milwaukee is holding a Leap Day celebration Feb. 29, 2024, akin to the one featured in the cult-classic episode of Tina Fey’s sitcom 30 Rock. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Gehl)

There are many ways to celebrate Leap Day —  the extra day that comes about once every four years

Festivities around Wisconsin will include a masquerade ball, a cooking class with frog legs on the menu and a 30 Rock-inspired party at a Milwaukee brewery. 

Some mark the occasion by creating time capsules to open on a future Feb. 29. A Stoughton business will be doing just that — but for dogs. The Crazy Dog Mom calls itself “a healthy lifestyle boutique for pups and their people.”   

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Owner Amanda Ballweg told WPR that customers can contribute to a time capsule of dog items that will be opened four years from now.

Amanda Ballweg's dog Ryuk.
Amanda Ballweg, owner of The Crazy Dog Mom, holds a peanut butter painting done by her dog Ryuk. Photo courtesy of Amanda Ballweg

“We have a little questionnaire that they can fill out. It will just kind of talk about the dog’s favorite things and stuff that’s going on currently in their life,” she said. “And then next leap year, we will invite everyone back and open it back up and kind of reminisce about all the good times.”

Dogs can even make original artwork at the event. 

Ballweg said she puts paint on canvas inside of a sandwich bag and covers the bag in peanut butter. 

“And then the dog licks the peanut butter off the bag and that spreads the paint around on the canvas,” she said.

Leap Day William and masquerades

Tina Fey’s sitcom 30 Rock introduced a bizarre set of Leap Day customs that some fans now observe. In the 2012 episode, every character besides protagonist Liz Lemon celebrates Leap Day with very specific rules. 

Andy Gehl is the co-founder and president of Third Space Brewing in Milwaukee. He first threw a 30 Rock-inspired Leap Day party four years ago without letting his customers in on the joke.

Third Space Co-Founder and President, Andy Gehl.
Third Space Co-Founder and President, Andy Gehl, welcomes Leap Day partygoers dressed as Leap Day William on Leap Day 2020. (Photo courtesy of Andy Gehl)

Now that 12 years have passed since the cult comedy episode aired, Gehl decided to explain the rules ahead of time. 

“You gotta wear blue and yellow and if you don’t wear the Leap Day colors, you can either have someone stomp on your foot or poke you in the eye,” Gehl said. 

“They eat rhubarb on Leap Day, of course. And, if we’re lucky, we’ll get a visit from Leap Day William, who’s sort of like a Leap Day Santa Claus and he gives away candy in exchange for children’s tears,” he continued. 

Another party will take place at the Humble Moon Saloon in Stockholm. Saloon owner Sarah Smith-Prokosch said she wanted to do something special for Leap Day, but figured she would have trouble drawing a crowd in Pepin County on a Thursday night. Instead, she’s hosting a masquerade on Friday. 

“You know, a masquerade party I think is something that’s always been a really mysterious thing that people have been curious about. We’ve only seen it maybe in movies and things like that,” she said. 

The ticketed event is for adults 21 and older and masquerade masks will be required. 

However you choose to celebrate, Gehl said Leap Day is “a great excuse to have fun on an extra day.”

“Gotta take a leap,” he said. “Real life is for March”