Off Beat: 60th annual and 60th anniversary are not the same

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When it comes to annual festivals, everybody loves the marquee dates — like the 10th, 25th or 50th anniversary.

Sometimes organizers take those dates a little too far: They decide to celebrate them twice.

It’s the phenomenon of the anniversary double-dip, of celebrating the same milestone two years in a row.

For brevity’s sake, let’s call it the “dejaversary.”

The topic came up recently when I talked to organizers of the Battle Ground float for the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.

The float was entered into its first parade in 1955, and this year — 2014 — organizers are celebrating the float’s 60th parade year.

But 2015 will be the float’s 60th anniversary of participating in the parade.

“I was sort of confused, but I counted it out, and yes, this is our 60th,” Sandy Helyer, president of Battle Ground’s float group, said.

It comes down to deciding what you’re actually counting — years or anniversaries. The first year was 1955; count that as 1, and this year is 60. But the first anniversary wasn’t until 1956; count that as 1, and this year is the 59th anniversary.

The same problem came up when people were debating whether 2000 or 2001 was the first year of the millennium.

Roman numerals don’t have a representation for zero. The Romans had a word for zero, but — some have argued — the calendar used in the West today started with Roman year 1. So the 2,000th anniversary of year 1 would be 2001.

Armed with this information, I asked Helyer if she planned to double-dip.

“That would be too much work,” she told me.

So we probably shouldn’t expect a 60th anniversary celebration of the float next year.

In my three years on the Features desk (Or is it four if I count April 2011 as year 1?), I’ve come across this several times. And yes, there have been a handful of double-dippers.

You know who you are.

But this time, it got me wondering if there was a word for it. I texted my dad, Steve Vorenberg, who is quite the math and computer programming wizard.

“Whenever you subtract two numbers, you’re including one but not both of the endpoints,” he explained.

After a bit of head scratching at that, I said, “Yeah, OK. But is there a name for this mathematical/date thing?”

“Never heard of a name for that,” he said. But then he had another thought.

“Make up one!!!” he texted me enthusiastically. “Maybe it will catch. Would be neat to coin a word that eventually ends up in the dictionary.”

Actually, I wrote the first news story using the word “yestersol,” which means “yesterday” on Mars. Yes, you can find it on Google. One day, that may be marked as my greatest achievement.

Just to be thorough, I asked my aunt, Marilyn Lawlor, about my date/number problem. (She is the secret lord of all wordy trivia. If you don’t believe me, try playing Scrabble against her). She didn’t know of a word for it, either.

My dad chucked out a suggestion: “versidouble.”

I offered “datastrophe,” which didn’t make the cut, either.

But then I hit it: “Dejaversary.” And that’s what I plan to call it from now on.

And that means I’m on to you, dejaversary planners. And in my rule book, you only get to pick one.

Make it count.

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.