Letter: Thank you to all who make Bristol so merry

Posted 1/5/24

Together, we have created a holiday haven in Bristol that has brought smiles to many faces. Thank you, one and all, for your part in this heartwarming journey.

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Letter: Thank you to all who make Bristol so merry


To the editor:

As we close 2023, I want to thank the thousands who joined us making our second season at the Bristol Santa House truly memorable. Each family that stepped into the Santa House brought joy and added to the festive spirit. Your Christmas wishes and stories have touched our hearts.

Our mission at the Bristol Santa House has always been to provide a uniquely immersive Christmas experience, especially for children with special needs and their families. We believe in the magic of inclusion, ensuring that every child, regardless of their abilities, can experience the wonder of Christmas in a setting that is both welcoming and magical.

Over the past two years, the Bristol Santa House has become more than just a holiday destination; it's a beacon of community spirit. We take pride in offering this festive wonderland free of charge, aiming to enrich holiday traditions and create lasting memories for everyone. The Bristol Santa House welcomed thousands of visitors this past season – including families from as far away as California and Alaska!

As the President of the James D. Rielly Foundation, I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I reflect on the immense support and effort that made the Bristol Santa House a resounding success this 2023 season. Our volunteers, supporters, and board members deserve immense praise for their dedication and hard work. Without you, the Bristol Santa House would remain a dream.

I would first like to sincerely thank the Town of Bristol for their tremendous support, which served as the backbone of this endeavor. From the town administrator and town council to our State representatives, your steadfast leadership and encouragement were invaluable.

A special thank you to town departments and officials—including the building inspector, DPW, Fire, and Police—for helping ensure a safe environment for all.

Sincerest appreciation also to the Bristol Statehouse Foundation for permitting us to utilize the historic site, as well as to the Bristol Historic Commission for fully backing our efforts. The unwavering community spirit across Bristol municipal teams and organizations is what truly brought the Santa House to life this holiday season.

Thank you also to our volunteers, donors, and supporters who truly embodied the spirit of giving to make this possible. From individual donors to local businesses, every bit of backing brought us closer to our dream. You were the superheroes behind the scenes, and we cannot thank you enough.

My deepest appreciation to our board members for their exceptional contributions: Patty Ferrick-Rielly and Paula Morrissette, your creative talents in decorating brought magic to our doorstep. Lori Cruz, your dedication in organizing special needs families ensured inclusivity and joy for all. Lori Mancini, your skills in organizing and managing volunteers were the glue that held our operations together.

Brian Morrissette, your expertise in construction and technical aspects provided us with a solid foundation. Jenn Mancieri, Paul Vollaro, and Judy Squires, your efforts in greeting guests and rallying supporters were crucial to our success. Special thanks to Dave and Laura Scarpino for your unwavering support, time, and effort throughout the project – even during the busiest times of the Christmas Festival.

Lastly, a personal and special thanks to my wife and part-time Mrs. Claus, Patty Ferrick-Rielly. Thank you for your patience, understanding, love and support, and overall putting up with my constant hair-brained ideas. You were initially the only one that “got” what I was trying to create.

Together, we have created a holiday haven in Bristol that has brought smiles to many faces. Thank you, one and all, for your part in this heartwarming journey.

Michael Rielly
21 Sandy Lane

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.