On January 31, 1979 — thirty-nine (39) years ago today, Senator Claiborne Pell entered Jim Rielly’s name to the United States Congressional Record.
In 1979, Jim Rielly was celebrating 51 years of donning the Red Suit. Jim went on to portray the Jolly Old Elf for the next 12 years, making him the longest running Santa Claus to date.
JAMES D. RIELLY – TRULY REMARKABLE “SANTA CLAUS: FROM RHODE ISLAND
Mr. President, before the pleasures and memories of the recent holiday season slip our minds completely, I would like to share with my colleagues a tribute to a truly remarkable “Santa Claus” from Rhode Island.
I am referring to Mr. James D. Rielly of Bristol, R.I. This past holiday period marks the 51st year in which Jim Rielly has donned red suit and white whiskers and with a large bag of goodies has visited hospitals, senior centers, and children’s centers throughout the East Bay area of Rhode Island.
His is a particularly effective and welcome presentation of Saint Nicholas because Jim Rielly is himself the personification of the spirit of cheerful, selfless giving of oneself for the benefit of others.
I am proud to be among the many thousands of Rhode Islanders who claim to be good friends of Jim Rielly, and I join all of those friends in the mutual hope that Jim will be bringing his special brand of seasonal joy to Rhode Island for many years more years.
In 2010, Jim Rielly was entered into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame in recognition of his extraordinary selflessness and kindness, and his contribution to the Santa Claus community.