Reading Buccaneers Hall of Fame
Truly the definition of the Reading Buccaneers quote, “We’re All Good Men”, Paul Cullen is immensely honored to be recognized and inducted into the Reading Buccaneers Hall of Fame. After developing a love of the marching arts in high school and while attending the Berklee College of Music (B.M., Film Scoring 2003), Paul began his DCA career in 2001 with the Syracuse Brigadiers, where he was a soprano performer, brass staff member, committee member and eventually drum major until the corps disbanded after the 2009 season. In 2010, Paul relocated back to the Philadelphia area, and his journey with the Buccaneers began!
Paul came on board with the Buccaneers as the Mellophone Technician in 2011. In 2012 he took on the role of Brass Caption Head serving through 2015 and leading the horn line to 3 Consecutive DCA High Brass Awards. After a hiatus from the corps, Paul returned to the brass staff in 2018 and 2019. Since the Buccaneers’ return to action in 2022, there is no one who thinks more about the success and growth of the drum corps. Paul has worked as the Ensemble Coordinator since 2022 orchestrating the creation of the musical package while working tirelessly to create both creative and innovative musical programming for the corps. He has spent the past 2 seasons running ensemble blocks and coordinating behind the scenes actions to provide an outstanding experience for the performers, educators, administration and the audience! His foremost thoughts are always on making the best decisions for the PERFORMERS. He meticulously plans rehearsals to maximize the staff and members’ efforts to drive them toward success. Paul spends countless hours outside of rehearsal checking in on members and collaborating with staff to ensure the program and the organization are working as a collective. His contributions over the years have helped lead the corps to 8 DCA World Championships. He has also given back to the corps by coordinating and donating meals, water ice and popsicles on hot weekends, and anonymously contributing to the dues of struggling members.
Outside of the Buccaneers, Paul has served performance ensembles and programs throughout the country. He has worked with the Syracuse Brigadiers (2001-2009), Fusion Core (2016), Cadets2 (2017), Jersey Surf (2014), The Cadets (2011), The Boston Crusaders (2008), as well as performing with the Princeton Brass Band (2016-2019). Paul is actively involved as an arranger and composer, instructor, caption head, editor, consultant, music designer, and adjudicator for both scholastic and independent programs.
Paul is excited to continue his journey with the Buccaneers in 2024 as they embark on the inaugural season in the DCI All-Age class. His enthusiasm will continue inspiring the membership and staff around him with his boundless energy and drive.
Allison Fassnacht was a leader amongst the cast and an educator and developer of performers throughout her time with the Buccaneers. From the moment Allison taught herself to play soprano in 2002 it was evident that she had a burning desire to be a part of this family. She immediately discovered the corps rich history and intrinsic value would help to shape her both personally and professionally. Allison gravitated to mellophone for the 2003 season ultimately finding her “calling” as she continued the remainder of her performing career on this instrument including a ‘rook-out’ season with the Crossmen in 2004.
Throughout her early tenure in drum corps Allison was a trusted performer amongst the staff and a supportive colleague amongst her peers. Often the visual team would rely on Allison for new methods and visuals that she had learned and developed during her time with the Crossmen, and her fellow performers would rely on her for guidance and wisdom especially through challenging moments. From 2005-2008 Allison was a consummate leader amongst her peers setting her up as the heir apparent for horn sergeant in 2009. The 2009 season was a terra-nova for leadership as all the performing section leaders in the horn line were women, all under the leadership of Allison! Together this team helped to propel the 2009 horn line to an amazing finals performance, along with a new DCA world record score of 99.025!
2010 brought a new challenge to Allison when she was asked to join the instructional team as a member of the visual staff. Though this was her first year on staff it was a welcome challenge that continued her personal and professional growth allowing Allison to guide the horn line performers ultimately reaching further into the color guard and percussion sections! Being part of the visual team, Allison was integral in assisting setting up technique routines, devising visuals, maintaining quality pedagogy and even became responsible for running the technique blocks culminating in three consecutive high Visual Ensemble captions; 2012 1st Place with a PERFECT 20.0, 2013 1st Place with a Score of 19.6, and 2014 1st Place with a Score of 19.7!
Allison exemplifies our deepest values; excellence and family! She has always been someone who her contemporaries look up to and strive to emulate. As a member, she was always looking out for the rest of the membership. Her intensity and focus came from her love of the Buccaneers, and she was always seeking what was best for the corps and its members. As a visual instructor, she was always ready with concise feedback & correction, always willing to re-examine trouble spots in the show to make performers better as individuals and a section. Her corps loved her back as much as she loved it. At the end of the 2014 season the horn line section leaders honored Allison (and husband/Buccaneer Hall of Famer Hank Manfra) on finals day with a grand sendoff knowing that with their impending move to California both Allison and Hank would be severely missed! The love and respect the drum corps has for both of these individuals is an honor bestowed to only a select few.
On finals night in 2014, it was Allison who suggested that we make the finals run simply feel like an ensemble run through as we had seen the performer greatness in rehearsal and just needed it to show up in uniform. Drum major Andrea Gwyn would take Allison’s suggestion and after the salute Andrea would go on to say "Top of the show to the end of the show, all in, no met"; a moment that will be revered in the annals of Buccaneer history and remembered by so many for decades to come! It's silly to credit a championship to one thing of course, but there's no question that that "command" went a long way towards focusing the corps' thoughts, setting them up for that amazing performance that night resulting in a 3rd -to- 1st jump and earning the Buccaneers their 13th DCA World Championship, their 9th within 10 years!
During her 7 years in the horn line (including horn sergeant in 2009) and 5 years as a visual tech Allison exhibited the highest qualities of the Buccaneer ethos. She is a teacher, leader, and Buccaneer who has influenced other corps members and helped them achieve excellence and has earned induction to the Reading Buccaneers Hall of Fame!
It could be argued that Bill McQuiston is already a ‘Hall of Famer’ and all that’s left is for the other members of the Hall of Fame to recognize that. Having marched 15 + years, a feat that is unheard of today, puts Bill in a Hall of Fame class all his own.
Bill was 14 years old when he joined the Buccaneers in 1959. He was a champion early on, winning three VFW Nationals and two DCA championships. He was one of the first contra players in the corps. He was committed to the Buccaneers, and some might say he did some unusual things to express his commitment. During a gasoline shortage in the early 1970s, he was known to have stowed a few full five- gallon gas containers in the back of his Ford Pinto, already known to be a car prone to gasoline explosion if hit from the rear, to ensure he had enough gas to get to and from a competition. His dedication to the Buccaneers was as strong off the field as it was on. He was a loyal and dedicated member who did what was necessary to help the corps succeed. He was very active in supporting the corps’ fundraising efforts, including its 50/50 program. He drove the equipment truck. When the corps went to Detroit for its first VFW championship, Bill took the lead in fundraising to make the corps’ participation possible. As his life and career took him away from regular involvement with the Buccaneers, he never forgot his roots as a member of the Balance in Blue and the role the corps played in shaping his life. He even asked his friend and mentor Bruce Englehart to be his child’s godfather.
In every generation of the corps’ history, there have been those long-time, stalwart members without whom the corps would not thrive. Bill McQuiston was one of those members, and has earned posthumous induction into the Buccaneers Hall of Fame.
Like all great tales, and drum corps shows, it’s the journey of the story that captivates and engages the audience. For the last 14 years Nicholas Tavares’ journey has made a lasting impact on the Buccaneers as a performer, technician, designer, caption head, and most recently as an Artistic Coordinator. However it’s his deep backstory in the activity that exemplifies Nicholas as one of our greatest risk takers and adventurers!
Nick came to the Buccaneers in 2009 to perform in the color guard where he found himself adapting to new styles and methods while also reigniting his thirst for excellence! After three years as a performer Nick transitioned to the other side and joined the tech staff of the RBCG in 2012; helping to build one of the greatest color guard performances in the history of the Buccaneers. From 2013-2014 Nicholas’s influence on design and development helped to root the RBCG as a perennial top color guard. In 2015 Nick was elevated to Caption Head where he began to experiment with multiple styles, genres and visual landscapes often combining numerous artistic ideals to create a new, yet familiar, environment while continuing to push the boundaries of the activity!
When the corps returned after the pandemic it was an opportunity to not just come back to the field but to be reborn and to take the next steps of exploration; at the forefront of that movement was Nicholas Tavares now in the newly created Artistic Coordinator role. This rebirth of the Buccaneers found us all hunting and ultimately discovering new ideas, new styles, new sounds, and new looks. Nick’s creative directions have all been rooted in simple ideas to create an environment for intellectual and emotional connections. We have evolved while still paying respect to all who came before us, a driving force behind all of Nick’s creative ideas.
Prior to the Buccaneers, Nicholas began his passion for color guard at Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Delaware learning and growing into a standout performer and being accepting into Apex Winter Guard where he performed from 1999-2003 and 2005-2008. Desiring to test his own boundaries Nick auditioned for and was accepted into the 2000 Cavaliers being part of the beginning of an historic performance run for the Cavies! After a storied career with Apex Winter Guard, Nick then joined the ranks of The Black Watch Color Guard from Mount Laurel, NJ and performed with them for both the 2009 and 2010 WGI Season.
A fantastic teacher and a designer, Nick’s focus has always been to build the next generation of teachers and designers to propagate positive lasting impact on the activity. Nick has been a driving positive force for scholastic and independent color guards amongst some of the best rated programs in the tri-state area. Many of the programs were either created by Nick, or his cultivation of the programs doubled their size, some resulting in multiple units with the same school including William Penn High School, Cab Calloway Schools of the Arts, Middletown High School, and McKean High School have all been influenced by the pedagogy and design collaborations of Nick. In the WGI Independent Open Class Nick was a long-time integral member of the design team for Field of View Color Guard from 2019-2023.
Nick has expanded on his impact on the activity by becoming an active adjudicator with the National Judges Association throughout the fall and winter seasons. In the “real world” Nicholas has two degrees in Early Childhood Education and Development and is the Program and Curriculum Coordinator of the Siegel Jewish Community Center--Early Childhood Center in Wilmington, Delaware.
For his sweeping contributions to the activity, and to the Buccaneers, we are pleased to welcome Nicholas Tavares to the Reading Buccaneers Hall of Fame!