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Liam Corbett, a fan clad in a blue Rob Gronkowski jersey, recalled attending his first Patriots Super Bowl send-off rally with his father in 2004, when New England beat the Carolina Panthers for the second of its three championships.

Now, with his father unable to attend due to an injury, he made the 50-mile trek from New Bedford with his wife, sister and two children, marveling at how the celebration morphed from roughly a couple hundred fans eight years ago to more than 20,000 on Sunday.

“It gives you more of a connection,” he said. “You’re able to be here with the team and they’re able to see you off and all that, because not everybody can get to Indianapolis. It’s pretty cool.”

Corbett’s wife, Nicole, was focused on creating memories for her almost 2-year-old son, Maximus, and 5-year-old daughter, Aurora, who was sporting a Brady jersey.

“Someone asked why we were coming down … he goes, `I could sit on my couch.’ I said, `Yeah, but I can’t afford to go to the stadium for a regular game so I’m going.’ We love this,” she said. “It’s exciting. I just like the energy, getting pumped up for the game, especially the kids, it makes great memories.

“It really gives you a lot of history and connection to the team as you get older. (Liam) did this with his dad when he was little and now we get to do it with our kids.”