Raimondo declares Tuesday 'New England Patriots Day'

The Super Bowl LI champions hit Providence Tuesday afternoon to celebrate their big win, with Gov. Gina Raimondo declaring it “New England Patriots Day.”

Nearly 7,000 fans, who were gathered inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, erupted as Rob Gronkowski and James Develin, along with several other players, took the stage around 4:30 p.m.

“I thought Boston was crazy today. Providence is just as crazy, baby!” Gronkowski said at the Rhode Island rally moments after he tore off his jersey and threw it into the crowd. “First off, you’ve got to give it up to our boys right here.”

Gronk was referring to Develin, a 2009 Brown University graduate, as well as a handful of other teammates who attended the event.

Develin, a 2009 Brown University graduate, also addressed the audience.

"I still live in Rhode Island,” Develin said. “I love Rhode Island and I love playing for you guys!"

Team owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft were there, too. Robert told Sports Team 10’s Joe Kayata, who co-emceed the event, that he and the team enjoy the support they get from the Ocean State.

“It’s a great honor,” Kraft said. “We always appreciate it. Our fans in Rhode Island are very special I think. As a state, we get more support from the state of Rhode Island than any of the other New England states and we always feel at home when we come here.”

Fans told NBC 10 it was “amazing” to not only see Kraft and the players, but to also get a glimpse of the trophy, which Gov. Gina Raimondo said was made in Cumberland.

“It is super cool,” one fan said, while another added, “Everyone loves the Pats.”

Members of the Central Falls High School football team made their way to the rally and shared similar sentiments.

“It means a lot because you don’t get this every day,” one student said.

Raimondo, whose staff organized the party in a matter of hours, said she was thrilled to be a part of it. It started with a call from the governor, and ended with a huge celebration.

“I called the Kraft’s yesterday and said, ‘You’ve got to come down to Providence.’ And they said, ‘Well, we’re doing Boston,’” Raimondo told NBC 10. “I said, ‘But you’re the New England Patriots, not the Boston Patriots.’ And anyway, long story short, they were terrific. They brought a lot of players.”

The event kicked off with Rhode Island’s own Billy Gilman belting out the National Anthem. The singer, who was the runner-up of the last season of NBC’s “The Voice,” donned a Patriots jersey and greeting fans.

“He was amazing,” Raimondo said of Gilman. “This place was packed with energy.”

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