On Friday, 3/11/2022, Linda and I set off on a women's landmark road trip to Peace Pilgrim Park, honoring Mildred Lisette Norman Ryder, the Peace Pilgrim (my next post). We've driven on the Garden State Parkway many times, but I had missed the announcement in 2021 that service areas were being renamed for members of New Jersey's Hall of Fame. So we were surprised to see that the first service area we passed—Cheesequake Service Area— was now named for Jon Bon Jovi!?
Hummm, we wondered as we drove along: Were all the service areas renamed? Were there any women? Then Linda spotted another service area sign—"Celia Cruz," she called out,
The Celia Cruz Service Area sign, I discovered, was installed on 1/26/2022. Later this month, her name will be installed on the front of the building. Inside there will be a mini-musuem with artifacts, a video monitor with vignettes, and a poster.
Over the years, I have visited Celia Cruz's mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery and attended a concert and exhibition there, honoring Cruz, the "Queen of Salsa." During the concert, her
mausoleum was open and I was able to go inside, a unique and special thing to do. Despite my familiarity with Celia Cruz, I had missed the fact of her New Jersey connection: She lived in For Lee, a town not far my town, from 1959 until her death in 2003.
That a renaming prompted me to learn more reinforces my belief that visibility makes a difference!
(Garden State Parkway Services Areas will be renamed for New Jersey Hall of Famers: Connie Chung, Celia Cruz, Whitney Houston, Judy Blume, Toni Morrison, James Gandolfini, Larry Doby, and Frank Sinatra—5 women, 4 men.)