As the home of the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the U.S., the town of Bristol thrives on patriotism and pride. Local volunteers provide the backbone for the Bristol Fourth of July Committee as it plans events throughout the summer. The most coveted position in the festivities is chief marshal of the parade, an honor given by the executive board of the committee to two outstanding Bristolians. In this year’s parade – the 232nd – the spotlight will be on Lisa Sienkiewicz and Gail Parella, sisters and co-owners of Gil’s Appliances.
As chief marshals, Lisa and Gail will attend town festivities, hold a reception and, of course, lead the parade. “Having lived in Bristol all our lives, it is an incredible honor to be chosen for the chief marshals of this year’s 4th of July celebration,” Lisa says. “We often think about past chief marshals that we admired, and it’s humbling to be one now.”
Growing up, Lisa and Gail spent most of their time surrounded by locals at Gil’s, their family-owned store. The business sells home appliances out of its two locations in Bristol and Middletown. When the sisters aren’t busy running the business, they volunteer at their neighborhood church, help out at their children’s schools, and support the town through sponsorships of Bristol’s and Middletown’s Little League baseball teams and the Bristol Fourth of July Concert Series. They also donate to various organizations, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Bristol.
If this weren’t enough, the two sisters are now taking on the duties of chief marshals, hosting summer parties, and continuing to put family first as their parents taught them. “The community has given so much to us, so it’s great to give back,” Gail says. “They know we are here for them.”