Former Dorney Park owner dies at 79

Jennifer Glose//October 29, 2014

Former Dorney Park owner dies at 79

Jennifer Glose//October 29, 2014

A garment industry and real estate magnate, Weinstein bought half of the amusement park in 1985. Taking charge, he expanded the small, family-run business into a major Northeast operation.

For seven years, Weinstein oversaw the park’s rapid expansion, adding high-profile rides, including Hercules, which was the largest wooden roller coaster in the world when it was built in 1989. During his tenure, attendance nearly tripled, from roughly 500,000 in 1984 to nearly 1.5 million in 1992.

“My father loved people. He loved talking to them. He loved interacting with them. He loved helping them,” Weinstein’s youngest son, Jamie Weinstein, said in a telephone interview this afternoon from the family’s hometown of Palm Beach Gardens. “Through his business success, his philanthropy and his love of family, he left a tremendous legacy.”

A past board member of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, Harris Weinstein engineered the sale of the park to Ohio-based Cedar Fair at the end of the 1992 season.

Before becoming involved in Dorney, Weinstein started Sunburst Property Management in Allentown. Today, Sunburst is run by his son, David Weinstein of Allentown. After the sale of Dorney to Cedar Fair, Weinstein concentrated more on buying and selling commercial real estate.

“Just look at what he did at Dorney Park,” Jamie Weinstein said. “His rapid expansion of the park into a regional behemoth helped provide jobs to the area, not to mention provide countless smiles to the faces of all those who enjoyed the park.”

Jamie Weinstein said the family is receiving many condolences, and that many people are commenting about how his father influenced them in some way.

“He was a remarkable man,” the son said.

Jamie Weinstein said his dad originally wanted to be a doctor, but Harris’ father was not doing well. So Harris, at 21, took over his father’s small Allentown textile company, Clyde Shirt Co.

Born in Allentown to Russian immigrant parents, Harris Weinstein graduated from Syracuse University in 1956 before taking over his father’s garment business. He went on to expand the business to 11 factories along the East Coast. He also became a major investor in commercial and residential real estate in and outside of Pennsylvania.

A philanthropist, Weinstein founded the Northeastern Foundation of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, was a national trustee of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and served as vice president and director on the board of Place of Hope in Palm Beach Gardens.

Weinstein is survived by his wife, Debora Jean Plarr Weinstein; sons, David, husband of Marybeth of Allentown; Jamie of Washington, D.C.; daughters, Beth, wife of Bruce Levy of Rydal, Pa., and Lisa, wife of Bruce Grossman of Bryn Mawr, Pa.

A son, Brett, died in 1999 from cystic fibrosis.

Funeral and memorial services were held for Weinstein in Palm Beach Gardens on Monday. Another memorial service is being is planned for Allentown in November. Details are yet to be announced.