Three to lead the Bristol Fourth

The Bristol Fourth scores a hat trick with the Januario family — Ken, Mike, and Steve are 2021 chief marshals

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 5/13/21

The selection of the Bristol Fourth of July chief marshal is an honor given solely to the general chairman of the Bristol Fourth of July Committee — even the other members of the committee …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?

Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.

Three to lead the Bristol Fourth

The Bristol Fourth scores a hat trick with the Januario family — Ken, Mike, and Steve are 2021 chief marshals


The selection of the Bristol Fourth of July chief marshal is an honor given solely to the general chairman of the Bristol Fourth of July Committee — even the other members of the committee don’t know the honoree until the big reveal. Every year, those other members try to guess who the chief marshal will be, and according to Michele Martins, for the past several years, people have been guessing the Januarios — Ken Januario, and his cousins, brothers Mike and Steve.

“In fact, they were often the top choice,” said Ms. Martins. “After a while, I began to feel like I should look more closely at them, and when I did, I realized how much they are involved in. They’re not boastful, they do a lot, and they’re all-around good guys.”

“Sometimes the most obvious choice is right in front of you.”

Choosing which Januario to honor would have been an impossible task — the men are not just family, they’re business partners in Sunshine Fuels & Energy Services, the company their grandfather founded as Sunshine Oil, in 1938. An inseparable trio (during business hours anyway), they’ve maintained their close bond through Ken’s recent retirement, and have continued their long tradition of service to the community.

Fortunately Ms. Martins did not have to make a choice — there was solid precedent for the concept that three Januarios are better than one: in 1985, the 200th Celebration of the Bristol Fourth of July, the chief marshals selected that year were Tony, Joe, and Manny Januario — Tony was Ken’s father, and Manny was the father of Mike and Steve. Sadly, those gentlemen are no longer here to enjoy seeing their sons receive Bristol’s highest honor, but the 2021 chief marshals are looking forward to breaking the news to their uncle Joe. “He’s 93, and he’s very sharp,” said Steve.

Ken Januario

Ken Januario (who, like his uncle Manny, was born on July 4) attended Bristol schools before enlisting in the Navy in 1965 and serving four years during the Vietnam Conflict as an electricians mate. Most of the years were aboard the USS Point Defiance, a land docking ship, transporting soldiers and supplies to shore in Vietnam.

He then transferred to the aircraft carrier USS Princeton, where he was on-board during the pick-up of the Apollo 10 spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean. Upon honorary discharge, he joined the family business, Sunshine Oil, in 1969. Ken has been a member of the National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals, Rhode Island chapter.

Ken lives in Bristol with his wife Cyndi, whom he has been with for more than 50 years. They both enjoy family (especially their nieces and nephews), and motorcycling, having biked extensively throughout the U.S. They also enjoy attending Ken’s Navy ship reunions, which are held annually at different locations throughout the country.

Mike Januario

Mike attended Bristol schools and joined the family business in 1970. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Roger Williams University and is active in many organizations, including the Rhode Island Mechanical Board, Energy Marketers Association of Rhode Island (serving on the Board of Directors), Oil & Energy service professionals, Mount Hope Farm (serving on the Board of Trustees), National Oil Heat Research Alliance, and National Energy Fuels Institute (serving on the Board of Directors).

He has been married 40 years to his high school sweetheart, Maggy. They have two children, Michael Jr. and Marcy, and a granddaughter Sadie, who is 1 year old. Mike is an avid golfer and skier and enjoys spending time on Narragansett Bay in the summer.

Steve Januario

Steve attended Bristol schools and joined the family business in 1989. He graduated from the Sawyer School and Rhode Island College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication and is active in many organizations, currently serving on the Bristol Harbor Commission. He has been married for 27 years to his wife, Kym. They have two children, Nicholas, a sophomore at Tufts University, and Nathan, a senior at Mt. Hope High School who will be attending Northeastern University in the fall. He spends his summers aboard his boat, and enjoys fishing and skiing.

A ‘reception’ for charity

As the principals of Sunshine Fuels & Energy Services, they have expanded their family business throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, and will be expanding their offices soon as well, relocating in June from their longtime Metacom Avenue headquarters to a large space at 280 Franklin St.

In keeping with their long tradition of service to the community, the Januarios are planning to forego the Chief Marshal’s Reception and use the money they would have spent hosting that event to donate to the following organizations: East Bay Food Pantry, Bristol Fire Department, Bristol Warren Education Foundation, R.I. Veterans Home Restricted Fund (for activities) and the R.I. Veterans Transition Fund (for homeless vets.)

“Given all the pain and loss over the last year, we thought it was the right thing to do,” said Steve.

For Mike and Steve, the parade — and seeing friends and family along the route — will be the highlight of their tenure as Chief Marshals, but Ken is especially looking forward to seeing the Navy ship. “When I was a kid of about 12 or 13, my uncle Manny took me out to the visiting ship and they had this little place where you could sign up,” he said. Not that many years later, Ken would sign up for real, and it would be the beginning of a successful career in the service.

True to their personalities, the Januarios are taking the honor with their characteristic modesty.

“It’s neat that someone would think of us in this light,” said Steve.

“That’s right,” said Mike. “I’m not one for the spotlight.”

“Never!” laughed Ken.

“But it’s an honor,” Mike continued. “We couldn’t say no.”

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at