SMITHFIELD — A white and green sign greets visitors to town as they enter from Oakland on routes 8 and 137: Welcome to Maine’s Only Leap Year Town.

To further make the point, “Welcome to Smithfield, Maine … Maine’s Only Leap Year Incorporated Town,” is proudly displayed across the homepage of the town’s website.

Smithfield, the only town in the state that was incorporated on Feb. 29, celebrated its 175th anniversary last year, though by leap year standards the town will celebrate only its 43rd “birthday” Monday.

The town has held a leap year town parade at least twice, including at last summer’s Smithfield 175th Anniversary Celebration.

So what do residents in the town do to celebrate leap year when it actually rolls around?

“Absolutely nothing,” resident Kay Young, 82, said with a laugh. “I’m too old to care.”

Young, a longtime resident of Smithfield who also was one of three judges for the 2015 Leap Year Town Parade, said the summer celebration was well attended. She doesn’t recall the town ever celebrating a leap year in February.

That could change if residents approve a warrant item proposing regular leap year celebrations. The item, which proposes raising $500 annually for the celebrations, will be considered at the annual Town Meeting on March 12.

Leap years, which come every four years, have 366 days rather than the 365 days all other years do, and that extra day is tacked on to the end of February.

In Smithfield, a first-ever Leap Year Social is already planned for Monday at the Fairview Grange. It will include desserts, coffee and a video slide show of last year’s Leap Year Town Parade, said Smithfield Administrative Assistant Nichole Clark. The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Clark said she thinks the town status means “people think it makes us unique, though I don’t know if anyone necessarily takes pride in it.”

She said the success of last summer’s 175th anniversary celebration played a role in prompting town officials to propose regular leap year celebrations, although she said she wasn’t sure what those celebrations would look like in the future.

“The community came together, you could just feel it,” Clark said. “I think that’s what spurred people talking about doing something on a smaller scale every so often, because the community did get together and it just was a great time. It’s hard to explain the feeling that came out of it.”

Smithfield was incorporated on Feb. 29, 1840, from parts of Dearborn to the south, Mercer to the west and East Pond Plantation to the north and east.

It was a farming and lumbering community known as Greeley’s Mill before the incorporation and has since grown its economic base to include tourism around North Pond and East Pond, according to the town website.

James Green of Vienna recently took over the former Smithfield Village Store and has plans to reopen next month as the Smithfield General Store. Working in the store on a recent afternoon, he said he had heard that Smithfield was Maine’s only leap year town, though he wasn’t sure whether it was something people acknowledged.

“Anything that brings the town together is good,” said Green, 43. “(A celebration) is certainly something we’d be excited about participating in.”

Young, the judge from last year’s parade, said she also supports the idea of a regular leap year celebration – on one condition.

“I think it’s a great idea as long as they get somebody else to do the work,” she said.

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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