Meryl Streep, Steven Van Zandt, Gloria Gaynor and More Head to the New Jersey Hall of Fame

Photo via Facebook/Meryl Streep

An astronaut, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and the E Street band guitarist walk into an Asbury Park convention hall.

That’s not the beginning of a joke. Actually, that’s Scott Kelly, Anna Quindlen and Steven Van Zandt — just three of the sixteen new inductees who will be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

“Induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame is the highest civilian honor that our State can bestow on someone,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “It’s a celebration of New Jersey that inspires the next generation of New Jersey leaders. Our inductees remind us how so many of our citizens have transformed the world, and how proud we should be of that fact as New Jerseyans.”

The inductees are determined by public voting as well as the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees. The official ballot contains 50 nominees with 10 in each of the five categories: Arts & Letters, Enterprise, Performance Arts, Public Service and Sports.

Stevie Van Zandt (Photo credit: Kirsti Hovde)

“Our May 6th induction ceremony is the NJHOF’s 10th-anniversary celebration, and former inductees will help us to induct this year’s class. It will be an inspiring ceremony, with lots of surprises,” said Steve Edwards, NJHOF Foundation Board President.

The ceremony will take place at Convention Hall in Asbury Park. All living inductees are expected to attend.

The ceremony will also include a recognition of the recipients of the third annual Arête Scholarship. “Named for the Greek concept of ‘Arête’ meaning the realization of one’s highest potential, these $5,000 scholarships are awarded to New Jersey high school seniors to help them achieve their potential. Students can apply for these generous scholarships online at before the deadline on March 17, 2018. The NJHOF presents The Arête Scholarship in partnership with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA),” NJHOF said in a statement.

Gloria Gaynor (via Facebook)

A full list of inductees is available here:

Arts and letters
Harlan Coben, author (Ridgewood)
Anna Quindlen, author and journalist (South Brunswick)

Jon F. Hanson real estate development (Far Hills)
Steve Forbes, publiser (Morristown)
Joe Buckelew, businessman/owner (Manasquan)

Performing arts
Meryl Streep, actress (Summit)
Stevie Van Zandt, musician (Middletown)
Gloria Gaynor, musician (Newark)
The Four Seasons — Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Joe Long, musicians (Newark)
“Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, chef and t.v. star (Hoboken)
Debbie Harry, musician, singer from Blondie (Hawthorne)

Public service
Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly, astronauts (West Orange)
Clara Maass, nurse (East Orange)
Millicent Fenwick, politician (Bernardsville)

Al Leiter, baseball, former New York Yankees and New York Mets (Berkeley Township)
Mary Decker, track and field (Bunnvale)

In addition, an “unsung hero” inductee will be announced.