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Local seniors experience Patriots Super Bowl parade through virtual reality

The Patriots Super Bowl parade came to a local senior living home through virtual reality. 

The Patriots Super Bowl LIII victory parade rolled through Boston about a month ago, and 1.5 million Patriots fans showed up to cheer their champions on.

A few weeks later, in a quieter setting just outside of Boston, a group of seniors got to experience the parade themselves in a different way.

In a partnership between Rendever, a company that provides virtual reality experiences for healthcare, and Benchmark Senior Living, a group of seniors got to learn what a parade looks like from a duck boat.

Seniors at Benchmark Senior Living on Clapboardtree in Norwood put on virtual reality glasses, and in an instant, they were no longer in their common room. They were on Boylston Street, grabbing for confetti and standing among their favorite Patriots players.

Benchmark has worked with Rendever to offer unique opportunities for their residents in the past, according to Carol Arnold, CEO of Arnold Communications which represents Benchmark.

"They were super excited. The fact that they were just up close and personal. They were waving," she said. "When you do virtual reality, you feel like you're there, so they were waving and moving their heads trying to take everything in. They were just super excited and looking for their favorite players, asking, 'Where's Gronk? Where's Tom Brady?'"

Kyle Rand, CEO and co-founder of Rendever, said when the Patriots won Super Bowl LIII, he knew it was the perfect chance to capture the experience and bring to people who couldn't be there themselves.

"The parade is something positive and exciting that the entire Boston community gets to come together for, and we knew we had to make sure this same community experience was available to all," Kyle said.

With two cameras at the parade, Rendever was able to capture the celebrations with help from MassChallenge HealthTech. When they unveiled the video to the residents, the reaction, he said, was priceless.

"The immersive nature of VR makes these experiences so magical - everyone had an amazing time," Kyle said. "There was lots of laughter and big smiles, and several residents were even spotted waving to the crowd from atop the boat."

Many of the residents, Carol said, are lifelong Patriots fans, so being able to experience the parade from the comfort of their home was truly special.

"This was just a great way that we could bring something that's so important to them, and they certainly would not have been able to go out and see the parade on their own," she said. "It was really important to us as a company to be able to do that."

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