James Gandolfini was honored on Sunday by having a stretch of Park Avenue in Park Ridge, N.J. re-named for him.
The unveiling ceremony was held in the Ridge Diner, which has a particular association with Gandolfini as the place where he used to hang out on Friday nights when he was a child. The event was attended by both friends and family.
He was remembered as “the skinny kid who would perform at the ‘Little Theater’ at Park Ridge High School.”
Mayor Terence Maguire – referring to James Gandolfini’s most famous role in the TV series “The Sopranos” – joked that he thought “we were going to get a mob,” at the event.
And then he added, wryly, “It looks like we did.”
County Executive Kathleen Donovan and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi also spoke at Sunday’s commemoration. They referred to Gandolfini’s generosity with philanthropic causes, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps veterans.
Michael Gandolfini, his 14-year-old son, said that he will “never forget going to the Park Ridge diner and eating there.” He added that his father “told me every story about every place here… (he) definitely made a point of coming here.”
The Borough Council declared Sunday “James Gandolfini Day” in Park Ridge, in addition to dedicating the street to Gandolfini’s memory.
Gandolfini was 51-years-old when he died of a heart attack last June in Rome while on vacation.
On August 30, 2008, after two years of dating, Gandolfini married former model Deborah Lin, 40, in her hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii. Their daughter, Liliana Ruth Gandolfini, was born in Los Angeles, California on October 10, 2012.
James Gandolfini will be sorely missed both as an actor and a family man.