A decade and a half after they rocked stages with their high-pitched bubblegum pop, the New Kids on the Block are back. So, too, are the band's shrieking fans, besotted as ever—but this time, with memories of their days before diapers and minivans.

I grew up in California. My dad was an alcoholic, and my mom just wasn’t the best mom. They were divorced, and when my dad began to drive trucks for a living, I had to take care of my younger brother. We were poor. Like…food-bank-at-a-church poor. I even knew the schedule of what church gave out food when.

I begged my dad to just get me tickets to a show. We could never afford it. [When] I turned 11 years old, my dad gave me this HUGE box! I opened it and was extremely disappointed. There was nothing in the box. I looked at him and said it wasn’t funny. He says, “What, don’t you like your present?” I looked again, and at the bottom of the box were two second-row tickets to the February 21st show in Fresno!!! I was OVER the moon!!!!
—Heather Fischer, Michigan

In the end, Rachel Teran got lucky. It was an exhausting trip that hadn’t exactly gone well. Leaving Boston around midnight, she and her two friends took a Greyhound bus to Manhattan for the New Kids’ performance on the Today show. Teran figured the schedule would give them plenty of time to make it to the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center and grab a spot up close.

They arrived at NBC at about 5 a.m. That’s when Teran saw the masses: A line of fans wrapped around the block and seemed to snake all the way back to Boston. Reluctantly, Teran and company walked across the street to a larger area that had been cordoned off for overflow fans. They could still see the stage from there, but just barely. As dawn approached, it began to rain. Perfect.

Teran, 35, is a zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo. Not long after NKOTB first announced the reunion, she spent much of her day off standing outside the Kiss 108 studios in Medford. It was April, and the band was giving an interview about their rebirth. It rained that day, too. By the time the guys came out and greeted the fans, Teran was soaked. It didn’t matter, though, because Danny came over and looked her right in the eye and thanked her for coming. She got some pictures with him and squealed happily just like all the other fans. “It was like we were all 15 again,” she says.

Teran lives in Jamaica Plain but grew up in the sun and surf of Long Beach, listening to NKOTB with all her friends. She moved here a few years ago when her husband landed a job. It didn’t work out between them, and they got divorced. Lately she’s been spending a lot of time thinking about how things used to be, which is why she went to the Kiss 108 studios and resolved to make it to the Today show. “I’m going,” she told her friends. “I’m going by myself if you don’t want to come with me.”

Ultimately, her friends Sarah and Jackie, who also work at the zoo, agreed to tag along. But when it started to rain, their mood turned dark. They had only one umbrella among them. So Jackie did what any serious (and drenched) fan would do: She flirted with a stagehand, who eventually ushered all three of them back across the street and into the exclusive area near the stage. When the New Kids came on, Teran was just 15 feet away—close enough to see their feet splash in the puddles as they danced.

After the show, the band lingered, and a few of them came down off the stage to mix with the crowd. Jordan touched Teran’s hand, and Danny was just inches away. Donnie remained onstage, though—until he saw Teran and her friends. Teran had worn her Franklin Park Zoo hat…true Boston bona fides. “He looks at us and points to us, and then he comes around the stage, jumps
down and comes over, and gives us hugs and kisses,” she says, laughing. “Being a New Kids fan, you take a lot of crap from those who, A, don’t know anything about them or, B, just don’t like them. Seeing how they interact with us when they see us is validation of why we’re fans. It’s hard to explain the feeling. It’s like being a fan of a sports team that has been ho-humming along, and you’re there with the die-hards, and finally all that waiting pays off.”