When it comes to Garden State pride, New Jersey’s mayors have it in abundance. They know of the extraordinary men and women who have hailed from their towns, and those that are still doing amazing things today and making significant contributions to New Jersey and the world beyond. That’s why New Jersey mayors have been so supportive of the New Jersey Hall of Fame, which announced the election of its second class in February.
The New Jersey Hall of Fame will induct its second class this May, headlined by such notables as Jon Bon Jovi, basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, civil rights activist Paul Robeson and tennis great Althea Gibson. The 13-member class also includes poet Walt Whitman, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, writer and doctor William Carlos Williams, comedy duo Bud Abbot and Lou Costello, entertainer Jerry Lewis, beloved Yankee and Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto, astronomer Carl Sagan and inventor Guglielmo Marconi. All were either born in or have deep ties to the Garden State.
THE LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES
WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN THE FORMATION OF
THE HALL OF FAME AND HAS BEEN INVOLVED
WITH THE NJHOF SINCE ITS INCEPTION.
“This group of Hall of Famers embodies the spirit of New Jersey, a combination of drive, determination and creativity that has led them to greatness,” Governor Jon Corzine said when he introduced the class. “The New Jersey Hall of Fame should serve as a reminder that the people of New Jersey strive for excellence and engage in a myriad of productive and rewarding activities that help society and give back to mankind.”
The New Jersey Hall of Fame was created to honor citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society and the world beyond. The Hall of Fame reinforces the message to children that they can and should strive for excellence in any endeavor they choose. By presenting significant and powerful role models and teaching young people about the voting process, the Hall of Fame is a source of learning, inspiration and hope for children. The organization’s website (www.njhalloffame.org) contains downloadable materials for using the NJ Hall of Fame to teach kids more about the state’s history.
The initiative has already generated tremendous positive publicity for a state that is often maligned in the media. The first induction ceremony was covered by everyone from the New York Times to Rolling Stone magazine, as well as TV and radio stations across the United States. Bruce Springsteen even mentioned his induction in the press conference announcing him and the legendary E Street Band as the half-time entertainment for this year’s Super Bowl.
The New Jersey Hall of Fame is proud of its association with the League of Municipalities; one of the Hall of Fame’s earliest and strongest supporters, and one of its most valued Academy members.
Inductees to the New Jersey Hall of Fame are elected through a three-phase process. In Phase One, a group of more than 30 expert panelists sift through the master list of nominations to create a list of 25 individuals in each category, which is then presented to the Hall’s Voting Academy. In Phase Two, the Hall of Fame Voting Academy, a group of approximately 100 of the most prominent organizations throughout the state, votes to narrow the field to six individuals in each category. Finally, the third phase gives the public the chance to vote for their favorites in each category. New Jerseyans are invited to vote online through the Hall of Fame website, and tens of thousands cast their ballots each year.
The Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, inducted in May, included two of the all-time great entertainers in Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen, and two of the all-time great minds in Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. It also featured Nobel and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Toni Morrison, baseball legend Yogi Berra, and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
This year’s inductees or their families will be honored at a gala red carpet induction ceremony on Sunday, May 3rd, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Tickets for the public to attend are available through the New Jersey Performing Arts Center box office.
Last year’s ceremony was both entertaining and historic and the Hall of Fame team is excited about the potential for another fun and enjoyable evening. We look forward to having most if not all of our inductees on stage this year as well as the appearances of several notable personalities.
The New Jersey Hall of Fame also unveiled preliminary design concepts for its initial satellite museums, slated for installation at the Izod Center and New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The organization’s plans include the creation of a mobile museum to take to school districts around the state. The hall is supported by private funds but operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
The League of Municipalities was instrumental in the formation of the Hall of Fame and has been involved with the NJHOF since its inception.
The New Jersey Hall of Fame encourages mayors across the state to notify the Hall about their own favorite sons and daughters that they feel should be on the Hall of Fame’s master list for induction into future classes.
This article was originally published in New Jersey Municipalities magazine. Vol. 86, No. 4, April 2009