Reading Buccaneers member profile – Hank Manfra

This article can be found published on the Reading Buccaneers.
Hank Manfra working with the corps. (Reading Buccaneers)

Hank Manfra working with the corps. (Reading Buccaneers)

Sometimes when trying something new, all it takes for people is a little push from friends. That’s what it was like for Reading Buccaneers Visual Caption Head, Hank Manfra, as his friends got him into the activity as a member and again as staff.

Manfra, 34, of Parsippany, N.J., started in the drum corps activity in 1993 with the Harrison Bushwackers after his friends, who marched the year before, got him to come out.

“I was a saxophone player,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going on. It was totally an intimidating experience, but excellent at the same time.”

He made the move to baritone with the Bushwackers and was a part of the corps for nine seasons (1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1999 through 2003).

Manfra said that in 2004, he retired from drum corps to take a break, but repeated calls from Dan McGrogan and Dave Linton convinced him to make a return, this time with the Reading Buccaneers.

“They kept pushing and pushing and kept talking to me about it,” he said. “When the 2005 season rolled around, I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll come check it out.’ I’ve been here ever since.”

What keeps Manfra coming back is the way things are handled in the Buccaneers, especially the support structure.

“[It’s] the way we do the littlest things,” he said. “The way we travel, the way we set up our day, the way we plan, the way we organize the show and the schedule. You have your one responsibility – whether you’re in the horn line, or you’re a staff member or you’re an admin – and you can do that to your maximum potential.”

Manfra has experienced the highs and lows of drum corps over the years. He knows what it’s like to win a championship, go through an undefeated season and also knows what it feels like to come in 10th place.

Through all that, he does have a couple seasons that stand out as his favorite.

“1996 with the Bushwackers was a lot of fun,” he said. “That was a real blast. I had a lot of good friends I still keep in touch with from that drum corps and we had a really good time.”

Of course, the first undefeated season is on that list as well.

“The 2005 year felt a lot like the ’93 season [with the Bushwackers],” Manfra said. “When you get to a certain point in that year, midway through the season, people start to figure it out. They start thinking, ‘This might really happen.’ You go through another weekend. ‘Oh yeah, this is starting to work.’ It was awesome to experience it as a member and as a staff member in two different groups.”

Outside of the world of drum corps, Manfra is the manager of technical operations at DC Comics.

“I basically make comic books,” he said. “I went to school for cartooning. I dictate or advise on how we use technology as it comes to our printing business. We do a lot of different things with TV, movies, toys, games, and comic books.”

As far as hobbies go, drum corps takes up most of his time, but Manfra does admit he enjoys to cook. He also teaches marching bands and drumlines.

He continues on with the Buccaneers year after year and tries to instill upon old and new members the true reason behind the corps and the activity.

“It’s not about the competitive aspect of it or a number or what some guy with a tape recorder says,” Manfra said. “It’s the journey and the experience. It’s not about winning or losing or competing, or anything like that. It’s the experience you give to the members and the experience you take from it.”

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Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Drum & Bugle Corps, Features

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