Noah becomes most popular boys' name, surprising Long Island parents

Noah Matyus, born in August 2013, with his Noah Matyus, born in August 2013, with his mother, Tricia, at her salon in Bay Shore, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Noah is one of the most popular names for baby boys and has bumped Jacob out of the No. 1 place. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

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When Tricia Matyus opened a hair salon in Bay Shore, she dyed her hair pink to make herself stand out. That's her personality, she says -- she tries to live outside the norm.

So when Matyus, 37, gave birth to her first child in August, she named him Noah, because she and her husband, Catalin, thought it was an uncommon name.

"I had never met any other Noahs in my life," she says. While pregnant, she even refused to tell anyone the names she and her husband were considering because she didn't want anyone to steal them. "I thought I had a unique idea."

But while Tricia was still in the maternity ward at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip recovering from her C-section, she got her first clue that Noah might not be such an original choice: The nurses told her another Noah had just been born that week.

Earlier this month, the rise of Noah was confirmed. The Social Security Administration announced that Noah has become the most popular baby name in the United States for boys, ending Jacob's 14-year reign. Liam took the No. 2 spot for 2013, dropping Jacob to third place. (Sophia remained the most popular baby name for girls for the third straight year.)

Surprise, surprise

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The change surprised some parents of Noahs on Long Island.

"I knew it was popular. But I didn't know it was that popular," says Rachael Risinger, 35, of Greenlawn, who named her son Noah in the summer of 2012, not realizing she was a trendsetter.

Though Noah has taken the top spot, Risinger says she hasn't noticed it in her day-to-day life. "As popular as it is, we haven't encountered an abundance of other Noahs. Not yet, anyway," she says.

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That could be because it doesn't take as many newborns to crown the most popular name as it used to. For instance, in 1999, when Jacob was in first place, more than 35,000 babies were given that moniker. But only 18,000 babies were named Noah in 2013, still enough to give it top billing.

Different theories

Parents of Noahs offered some theories as to why the name has become so popular.

"We wanted a biblical name. That was important to my husband and me," Risinger says. One mom mentioned the TV series "Heroes," which had a character named Noah Bennet. Others flagged the movie "The Notebook," a love story starring Ryan Gosling as romantic lead named Noah. Jeanette Segal, 36, of East Northport says she named her son Noah in June before being conscious of the movie connection, and after someone pointed it out to her, she loved the name Noah even more.

And Tricia Matyus says she was watching a science-fiction series on TV while she was pregnant called "Falling Skies," and the lead actor's real name is Noah Wyle. "That inspired me a little bit. I guess television plays its part."

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She's accepted that her son may share his name with many others of his generation. "What are you going to do?" she says. "I'm not going to change his name."

Liam is no. 2

When the name Liam moved into second place for most popular boy's name of 2013, it vaulted into the top five for the first time in the past 100 years.

That didn't thrill some Long Island parents.

"He'll grow up being Liam K. in school," predicts Kristen Kollmer, 31, of St. James, whose son Liam was born in October. She's resigned to it and knows how it feels -- she says that growing up in the '80s, she was always Kristen R. in her classes.

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Cecilia Polyezos, 31, of Smithtown, had planned to give her son, who was born in July, the strong Irish name of Liam since she was about 12 years old and baby-sat for twins named Liam and Logan, she says. "I'm pretty annoyed that it's so popular," she says. "I thought I was picking something nobody else was."

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