Two BFFs get chance to hang with Donnie in St. Charles

  • Donnie Wahlberg performs at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles Thursday night to benefit families affected by autism.

      Donnie Wahlberg performs at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles Thursday night to benefit families affected by autism. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Kristen Parness, left, won tickets to the Donnie Wahlberg performance and brought her friend Danielle DeCristoforo. They flew from New York in time to see the show.

      Kristen Parness, left, won tickets to the Donnie Wahlberg performance and brought her friend Danielle DeCristoforo. They flew from New York in time to see the show. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Jenny McCarthy, wife of Donnie Wahlberg, introduces him at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles Thursday night for a concert to benefit families affected by autism.

      Jenny McCarthy, wife of Donnie Wahlberg, introduces him at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles Thursday night for a concert to benefit families affected by autism. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Confetti flies in the Arcada Theatre as Donnie Wahlberg performs in St. Charles Thursday night to benefit families affected by autism.

      Confetti flies in the Arcada Theatre as Donnie Wahlberg performs in St. Charles Thursday night to benefit families affected by autism. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/2/2016 11:31 PM

Wherever the New Kids on the Block are, Kristen Parness and Danielle DeCristoforo are not far behind. They go to their concerts. They've seen them get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They've even gone on a fan cruise with the band -- three times.

On Thursday, their fandom brought the besties from New York all the way to the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Parness won the #GoHomeWithDonnie fan sweepstakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The win got her plane tickets for two, front row seats for a solo performance by St. Charles resident Donnie Wahlberg, VIP after-party access, and accommodations at the Hotel Baker. And she couldn't think of a better person to bring with her than DeCristoforo.

"My husband now has a man-crush on Donnie," Parness said. "He loves him in 'Blue Bloods.' When I won, he was like, 'I'm so excited to meet him. He seems so cool.' And I was like, 'You're not coming.'"

Parness and DeCristoforo met at a CD signing the band hosted during a 2008 reunion. They've been best friends ever since, bonding over their #BHlove (BH is short for Block Heads, a term of affection for fans of the New Kids).

"God, we just love them," Parness said. "From ages 8 to 12 they were like our first loves. They were such a part of our life when we were little, and now they are still so great with their fans. We've just grown up with them."

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The pair have had some one-on-one encounters with various New Kids over the years. At one point, a member of the fan duo's crew of friends even got Donnie Wahlberg's cellphone number.

"Ever since we got it we've been harassing him on that number for free tickets to things," laughed Parness. "But I guess the number belongs to some NFL player now."

The fan duo got everything they hoped for and more at the Thursday performance. Wahlberg started the show solo. But after a power failure briefly knocked out the lights at the Arcada, Wahlberg kicked up the production by singing several songs right in the middle of the main theater floor and then welcoming out fellow New Kids Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre as well as Naughty By Nature.

Parness and DeCristoforo said they easily added Jenny McCarthy, Wahlberg's new wife, to their New Kids fandom.

"I like to pretend that me and my fiance are like them," DeCristoforo said. "I feel like Donnie is out there, and he needed someone else who was out there, too. They are just perfect together."

The fans will spend Friday with Wahlberg and McCarthy as part of their fan experience.

Wahlberg's performance raised about $100,000 for Generation Rescue, McCarthy's charity that helps fund treatment for families with autistic children. Wahlberg promised to match the $100,000 with $100,000 of his own.

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