Now in its 10th year, the New Jersey Hall of Fame is having no trouble finding Garden State greats to honor. This year’s thoroughly modern class includes performers Steven Van Zandt and Debbie Harry, Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, author Harlan Coben and astronaut twins Mark and Scott Kelly.
The new class will be honored at this year’s induction ceremony, May 6 at Convention Hall in Asbury Park. “It will be an inspiring ceremony, with lots of surprises,” says New Jersey Hall of Fame Foundation board president Steve Edwards in a statement.
The class of 2017 is as diverse and varied as the state itself. Other inductees include the members of the band the Four Seasons; “I Will Survive” singer Gloria Gaynor; former Yankees and Mets pitching star Al Leiter; runner Mary Decker; politician Millicent Fenwick; publisher Steve Forbes; real-estate executive Jon Hansen; businessman Joe Buckelew; and the heroic late 19th-century nurse Clara Maass. Actress Meryl Streep and author Anna Quindlen, who were voted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2008 and 2015, respectively, also are expected to attend this year’s ceremony for their formal induction.
This year’s New Jersey Hall of Fame Unsung Hero award recipient is yet to be announced.
The official 2017 public vote ballot contained 50 nominees — 10 in each of five categories: Arts & Letters, Enterprise, Performing Arts, Public Service and Sports. The public voting, along with input from the New Jersey Hall of Fame Board of Commissioners, determined this year’s class. Since its inception in 2008, almost 100 individuals and groups—including Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison, Grover Cleveland and Jon Stewart—have been inducted. Last year’s inductees included TV personality Kelly Ripa, actor Ray Liotta and soccer star Carli Lloyd.