Members of New Kids on the Block were at the St. Charles Wahlburgers on June 18 to press their hands into wet cement and become the first inductees of the eatery’s “Wahlk of Fame” as hundreds of fans cheered them on.
Donnie Wahlberg, co-owner of the burger franchise with his brothers, film star Mark Wahlberg and chef Paul Wahlberg, told the assembly of fans how the three were blown away by the support the restaurant had received since opening during the pandemic.
Donnie Wahlberg said it was his dream that the St. Charles location – being centrally located in the country – would be a place for the band’s fans to hang out.
“This is the Blockhead clubhouse, the unofficial hangout for Blockheads across the country,” he declared, using a nickname for fans of the boy band that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s. The band’s other members, brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre and Danny Wood, also took part in the ceremony.
One by one, each man pressed his hands into wet cement to the roar of the crowd. Fans cheered, clapped and recorded the proceedings with their cellphones.
The ceremony coincided with the group’s performances June 17 and 18 at All-State Arena, where they were headliners along with Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue and Rick Astley.
St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek introduced the band about 11 a.m. By that point, many fans had been standing in the parking lot for hours. They included Nicole Nardulli of New Lenox, a fan since the 1990s, who arrived at 6:50 a.m.
Deeper into the crowd stood Nancy Seale and Christy Ankeny. They got there about 9 a.m. Seale, who is from Florida, and Ankeny, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, met while in the military and connected over their shared love of NKOTB.
“Donnie’s message is always about kindness, spreading love, trying to bring the fan kingdom together,” Seale said. “It’s one happy family, most of the time.”
The pair had planned the trip to Chicago to see the band perform for months and said watching the ceremony outside Wahlbergers was like a cherry on top.
“This was our pilgrimage to the mecca of Wahlberg,” Seale joked.
New Kids on the Block formed in 1984, disbanded in 1994, then reunited in 2007. The group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.
After the ceremony, Wahlberg told the crowd the band would give tickets out to anyone who didn’t already have them.