The joke writes itself: In New Jersey, the only honor higher than being elected to the state Hall of Fame is … getting a rest stop named after you.
On Tuesday, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority board of commissioners voted unanimously to rename the nine service areas in honor of notable New Jerseyans who are inductees to the state Hall of Fame in the arts, entertainment and sports categories.
The service areas will be renamed in phases. The first will be at Monmouth and Atlantic service areas in October and November — the dates for the others will be announced in the coming weeks.
Here’s the list, from North to South:
- Montvale: James Gandolfini
- Brookdale North: Larry Doby
- Brookdale South: Connie Chung
- Vauxhall: Whitney Houston
- Cheesequake: Jon Bon Jovi
- Monmouth: Judy Blume
- Forked River: Celia Cruz
- Atlantic: Frank Sinatra
- Ocean View:Toni Morrison
Turnpike officials said the Garden State Parkway service area parking lots will now welcome visitors with banners of New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees, and each service area will contain Hard Rock Cafe-style exhibits including inspirational posters designed by renowned New Jersey architect Michael Graves, compelling artifacts and an interactive Wall of Fame featuring a life-sized video monitor showcasing over 200 biographical vignettes of all inductees and their acceptance speeches.
Service area patrons will be invited to pose with imagery of various Jersey legends and share the photos on their social media platforms, the officials said.
While all New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees will be showcased, each service area will be themed in the categories of arts, entertainment and sports.
The planned Parkway service area exhibitions further extend the Hall of Fame’s statewide network of museums, exhibits and poster installations in partnership with Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey Transit, Battleship New Jersey, the Meadowlands Chamber and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
All jokes aside, Murphy said the gesture is a way to put “New Jersey greatness on full display,” he said. And it’s the first of many efforts to do so.
“This is the first part of an extended statewide exhibition of New Jersey heroes throughout our state,” he said. “From military heroes on the Battleship New Jersey to historical figures on the New Jersey Turnpike to science and technology trailblazers at Newark Penn Station, New Jerseyans will find pride in our contributions to society and the world.”
Later this year, the Hall of Fame will announce updated plans for its permanent home at American Dream while the mobile museum continues to serve local communities.
First lady Tammy Murphy said she hopes the gesture will encourage the next generation of inductees.
“By highlighting the past achievements of New Jersey residents, we aim to encourage hope for the future success stories of our great state, and maybe even inspire the next Toni Morrison or Jon Bon Jovi to achieve all that they can through the opportunities afforded in New Jersey,” she said.