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Chasing Greatness at the New Jersey Hall of Fame Ceremony

GALLERY: New Jersey Hall of Fame Ceremony

I didn’t want go home, and neither did anyone else at the sold out iconic Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park Sunday night.

NJHOF-050618-Stevie Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen
The Bruce Springsteen joined Steven Van Zandt (better known as Little Steven), as well as the entire 2017 class of inductees and their families, at the end of the song at the 10th annual New Jersey Hall of Fame Celebration for the final number “I Don’t Wanna Go Home”.  

NJHOF-050618-Gloria Gaynor
Steven Van Zandt was the last inductee on a night of New Jersey greats that included Four Seasons (Franki Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Joe Long), Gloria Gaynor, Debbie Harry of Blondie, Buddy “The Cake Boss” Valastro, Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, Athletes Carli Lloyd and Al Leiter, publishing executive Steve Forbes, Real Estate Devloper Jon F. Hanson, Authors Harlan Coben and Anna Quindlen, businessmen Jon Hanson and Joe Buckelew, nurse Clara Maass, and politician Millicent Fenwick.  Much to our dismay, Meryl Streep and Tommy Devito (Four Seasons) were both unable to attend the ceremony.

NJHOF-050618-Steve Forbes and Family

(Steve Forbes and family)

NJHOF-050618-Blondie-Debbie Harry(Debbie Harry aka Blondie)

NJHOF-050618-Cake Boss Buddy Valastro
(Buddy Valastro – The Cake Boss, and his family)
While Bruce Springsteen was not “officially” on the bill, it was wildly rumored for many days prior that he would be the one to induct his long time friend of 50 years, Steven Van Zandt. Springsteen’s speech was… well very Bruce-like. Steven’s was even better.  

Both speeches were personal and funny, with little known facts here and there, and full of N.J. references. You can watch them below, and it’s well worth your ten minutes of time. One part of Steven’s speech personally hit home for me: “My life has really been about chasing greatness. I seek it out, I support it when I find it, and I create it when I can.”  

As a fellow artist, I am always striving to be the best I can be while appreciating everything to its fullest and trying my hardest to stay humble along the way.

The highlight of the night for me, other than seeing Bruce and Steven perform, was shaking the hand and seeing living legend Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin perform a moonwalk on stage, alongside some additional spry antics on the red carpet. At 88 years young, this great man acts like he’s in his early 60’s and looks great!  Buzz inducted Astronaut twin brothers Mark and Scott Kelly in a moving and funny speech.

NJHOF-050618-Buzz Aldrin
Other inductors at the ceremony were a N.J. who’- who, both past and present including: N.J. Governor Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy, former N.J. Governors Tom Kean and Christine Todd-Whitman, Former Senator Bill Bradley, former N.Y. Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, Felipe Rose of The Village People; and former Govs. Tom Kean and Christine Todd Whitman. John Roberts (voice of Linda from Bob Burgers), Joe Piscopo, Tommy James, and former N.Y. Giants linebacker Harry Carson.

NJHOF-050618-Joe Piscopo
Whoopi Goldberg hosted the ceremony and did an excellent job. She was funny, heart warming, and most importantly kept the evening running smoothly and quickly. The Red Carpet, which was held in the Grand Arcade adjacent to the Paramount Theatre before the show , was a ton of fun and a first for me. I can now check this off the list now too.  

NJHOF-050618-Frankie Valli and Four Seasons with Jimmy James(Frankie Valli and Four Seasons with Jimmy James)

Dignitaries, sponsors, inductees, and their families were all introduced and honored. Fans packed the Arcade looking to catch a glimpse or shake a hand of one of their favorite New Jersey heroes.

NJHOF-050618-Gloria Gaynor

The other music highlight for me was hearing Gloria Gaynor sing. While never a big fan of Disco, Gloria was a household name in the 70’s and early 80’s with her anthemic and empowering single  “I Will Survive”. In a glimmering black outfit outfitted with her beautiful huge smile, Gloria’s voice was in fine form as she sang “Day One” and then brought the crowd to their feet and everyone danced to “I Will Survive”.

NJHOF-050618-Stevie Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen

Steven Van Zandt, in his acceptance speech, summed up this magical night in Asbury Park at the N.J. Hall of Fame Ceremony with the legion of New Jersey celebrities in attendance perfectly: “We did the impossible — we made New Jersey hip… Thank you, New Jersey, you’ve been very good to me”.

Until next year..


Check out the full gallery here!

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