Fans gather to see New Kids on the Block added to 'Wahlk' of Fame at St. Charles Wahlburgers
Members of New Kids on the Block were at the St. Charles Wahlburgers Saturday morning 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, who co-owns the burger franchise with his brothers, film star Mark Wahlberg and chef Paul Wahlberg, told the assembly of fans they were blown away by the support the restaurant has received since opening during the pandemic.
Wahlberg said it was his dream that the St. Charles location would be a place centrally located in the country for their fans to hang out.
"This is the blockhead clubhouse, the unofficial hangout for blockheads across the country," Donnie Wahlberg declared at the ceremony, using a nickname for fans of the popular late-'80s and '90s-era boy band, whose other members are brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre and Danny Wood.
One by one, each man pressed his hands into wet cement to the roar of the crowd cheering, clapping and recording the proceedings with their cellphones.
The Saturday morning ceremony coincided with the group's performances as co-headliners with Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue and Rick Astley at the All-State Arena Friday and Saturday nights.
St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek introduced the ceremony around 11 a.m. By that point many fans had been standing in the parking lot for hours to get a good spot, including Nicole Nardulli of New Lenox, a fan since the '90s, who had arrived at 6:50 a.m.
Further back from the action stood Nancy Seale and Christy Ankeny who got there around 9 a.m. Seale, of Florida, and Ankeny, of Virginia Beach, Virginia met in the military and connected over their shared NKOTB fandom.
"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.
Considered to be the first modern boy band, New Kids on the Block formed in 1984, disbanded in 1994 before reuniting in 2007. St. Charles isn't the only place they've been honored; The group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.
Wahlberg told the crowd after the ceremony Saturday the band would give tickets out to anyone who didn't have them already.