Middletown Township renames street Van Zandt Way (WATCH VIDEO)

VAN zandt way

Steven, Kathi and Billy Van Zandt with the recently unveiled Van Zandt Way sign in Middletown Township.

At a ceremony at which a portion of Wilson Avenue — the street in Middletown Township on which he grew up — was renamed Van Zandt Way, Steven Van Zandt started talking about his late parents, who “were not showbiz people,” he said.

“I’d love to see the looks on their faces, because no one would have been more surprised than them,” said the musician, actor, activist and entrepreneur, speaking to a crowd full of old friends and family members and longtime Middletown residents. “It really was touch and go there for a number of years. And I’m not sure I would recommend to someone, coming up, to take the Van Zandt way of doing things, exactly.”

He closed his brief speech — on a stage built in the middle of the street, which was filled with people and closed to traffic — with what he called “my only regret.”

“My relationship with law enforcement is quite good these days,” he said. “I give pretty much the biggest fundraiser for law enforcement in the country, every year. The relationship wasn’t always that good. Those of you who are a little bit older may recall an altercation or two, which is why it’s a damn shame that Chief Joseph McCarthy didn’t live long enough to be here today.

“We had an interesting relationship. And it would have been just marvelous for him to have to see my name on his mail, every day.”

From left, Brian Williams, Billy Van Zandt, Middletown Township mayor Tony Perry, and Steven Van Zandt.

The ceremony honored both Van Zandt and his younger half-brother, the playwright, producer, actor and Emmy-nominated television writer Billy Van Zandt. Both men also spoke warmly of their sister, Kathi Van Zandt, who works in the publishing industry.

And Steven Van Zandt seemed thrilled to see his first manager, Kay “Big Mama” McEvilly, who was in attendance.

The street will officially remain Wilson Avenue, but there will be Van Zandt Way signs at various locations.

The retired television newsman Brian Williams, who grew up in Middletown Township, introduced the Van Zandts with a warm and funny speech of his own, and various politicians and officials from the New Jersey Hall of Fame — who partnered with Middletown Township on the project — were in attendance as well, and some addressed the crowd. Van Zandt solo music as well as tracks he recorded with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band and Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes were played on a sound system before the actual ceremony began.

Here is a video of the ceremony:


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