New Kids on the Block convention a first for fans of the iconic ’80s boy band

Donnie Wahlberg and the rest of New Kids on the Block will be in Rosemont this weekend.

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Jonathan Knight (from left), Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood of New Kids On The Block perform onstage during the 2021 American Music Awards in Los Angeles.

Jonathan Knight (from left), Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood of New Kids On The Block perform during the 2021 American Music Awards in Los Angeles.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Nearly 40 years after forming in Boston in 1984, New Kids on the Block are set to host their first fan convention in Rosemont over Memorial Day weekend, BLOCKCON, and Donnie Wahlberg has been busy going through decades of memorabilia to bring with him to the event.

“I’m actually in my storage shed going through years of stuff,” the singer-actor shared during a recent interview. Wahlberg revealed he was rolling through the itemized list of discoveries he’s been making while unpacking boxes and road cases that have been, until now, kept in a storage unit near the St. Charles home he shares with his wife, actress Jenny McCarthy.

NKOTB

BLOCKCON

When: May 26-28

Where: Concert, Rosemont Theatre (5400 N River Rd., Rosemont); convention, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (5555 N River Rd., Rosemont), Sunday farewell party, Impact Field, 9850 Balmoral Ave., Rosemont

Tickets: $379+

Info: blockcon2023.com

To attend BLOCKCON, you must purchase a weekend pass in advance online (no walkup sales or individual event tickets will be available) and register once onsite in the lobby of the Rosemont Theatre, beginning at 1 p.m. on May 26. The all-in-one pass (starting at $379) provides access to all weekend events, including the Friday night kickoff concert at the Rosemont Theatre at 8 p.m., as well as the Saturday daytime panels with the band beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the theater, and the Saturday night “I’ll Be Lovin’ You Forever” NKOTB Prom, at 8 p.m. at the Donald J. Stephens Convention Center. The festivities conclude Sunday with a farewell party at Impact Field beginning at 11 a.m.

“I’ve found concert clothes from 1989, 1990, iconic looks. I have a stage-worn jacket from the [’90-’92] Magic Summer Tour. I used to wear these hardware hats that the fans know very well, I found three of them. … There’s my outfit I wore to an awards show in 1989, my graffiti pants I used to wear onstage,” Wahlberg said.

“I have fully intact New Kids dolls, the big fluffy ones and the little Barbie and Ken doll action figures. I have a New Kids pillowcase and sleeping bag. And then there’s the box of every jacket my mom got from every tour — there’s 20 of them, all different tours, they all say [her name] Alma on them,” he said.

This New Kids quasi-museum is going to be just one part of BLOCKCON, which all five of the original members — Wahlberg, Joey McIntyre, Jonathan and Jordan Knight and Danny Wood — have been personally working on, step by step, over the last year. The result: a fully immersive experience for the legion of the band’s die-hard fans, lovingly referred to as Blockheads.

New Kids on the Block — Jonathan Knight (from left), Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight and Donnie Wahlberg — are photographed in 2022. 

New Kids on the Block — Jonathan Knight (from left), Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight and Donnie Wahlberg — are photographed in 2022.

Paris Visone

“Typically, people do conventions, and it’s sort of like minimal sightings of the band or the actor or whatever the theme of the convention is,” Wahlberg said. “But our fans have come to expect a certain level of involvement from us, which means to be there the entire time. There’s no event [at BLOCKCON] that doesn’t involve us. So it’s not going to be like we show up for a half-hour and say hi on a panel or take some pictures and leave. We are full-on there.”

For Wahlberg, it’ll be an easy trek, since the event is just a quick drive down I-90 from his home. He and McCarthy are full-fledged residents of Illinois at this point — “I have the driver’s license to prove it,” Wahlberg joked — though they often travel for work. Wahlberg is a cast member of the CBS cop drama “Blue Bloods” and also recently appearing on Fox’s “The Masked Singer,” where McCarthy is a judge.

BLOCKCON offers a kickoff concert, daytime panels, exhibits, a prom theme party on Saturday night and “a farewell event with the New Kids on Sunday morning,” according to a news release. And really dedicated fans can get some permanent New Kids ink, too.

“So many New Kids fans get tattoos, I wanted to repay them, and I got my own New Kids tattoo in tribute. The artist who did it — so many fans try to seek him out — so he’s actually going to come to the convention and do tattoos if anyone wants them,” Wahlberg added.

BLOCKCON also celebrates the 15th anniversary of the band’s 2008 reunion. The quintet originally disbanded in 1994 at the height of their popularity.

“There’s a maturity that we probably lacked the first time around, even though we kind of got into this when we were all young teenagers and had to mature very quickly. It all happened so fast, it was hard to appreciate it all. And I think with this second go-around, we’re all just all so much more grateful for all of it,” Wahlberg said. “It’s that age-old question, ‘If you had the chance to do it over again, what would you do differently?’ Well we’re doing it. We’re living it out right now.”

In addition to 2.0 highlights including sold-out tours, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and playing their beloved Fenway Park, the band is also working on new material. (Their last album release was the 2017 EP “Thankful.”)

“I don’t think I’m supposed to spoil it all but … we’re working on an album, and we’re working on something to celebrate the 15th anniversary of [2008 comeback album] ‘The Block,’ ” Wahlberg said.

“I have the collection of that entire album-making process in my old [computer] from 2008, and I’ve been going through that the same way I’ve been going through this storage unit,” he said. “It’s loaded with gems and unreleased music and little things that I forgot even existed that will be so fun for fans to reminisce and discover right along with us.”

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