Six Flags Mourns Loss of Chicago Park President

January 17, 2022, 4:08 PM · Six Flags today is mourning the loss of its Six Flags Great America park president, Charles "Hank" Salemi.

Salemi, 57, died earlier this month. He had worked as park president for Six Flags' Chicago-area park since 2006.

Charles 'Hank' Salemi
Charles "Hank" Salemi. Photo courtesy Six Flags

"Today we bid farewell to our friend, colleague and Six Flags family member. Your passion, dedication and spirit was second to none. You will be missed and your impact, both professionally and personally, will be felt forever," Six Flags said in a post on Twitter.

Prior to returning to the Chicago area to take the lead at Six Flags Great America, Salemi worked for several years as Six Flags' chain-wide chief marketing officer, moving up from his prior role as marketing director for Six Flags Great America.

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Replies (4)

January 17, 2022 at 4:42 PM

Hey Everybody!

Its been a bit of time since I wrote on TPI, but I used to cover events for Great America for this great site!

Hank's death was a huge shock to me and I believe a serious loss to the Six Flags Great America family. From a personal perspective, he was always welcoming to me and willing to answer my questions when I covered openings such as Dark Knight Coaster, Buccaneer Battle, and Goliath.

He also was a very "hands on" President at Great America as he was always walking walking the park, picking up trash and talking to guests. He might the closest I have ever seen to a Walt Disney in a non Disney park. His passion to make the park better can still be seen today.

I will leave you with one of his best decisions for the park. We had a small park on the Southwest side called "Kiddie Land" which sadly closed after over 50 years in operation. He was able to buy and move their iconic kiddie coaster, The Little Dipper, to Gurnee so that future children could enjoy. It is still running today, creating new memories for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original riders.

Six Flags has mighty big shoes to fill!

January 17, 2022 at 5:18 PM

Thanks Anthony. Sending all our best wishes to everyone in the Salemi and Six Flags families.

January 18, 2022 at 12:36 AM

It was sad, he really did do a lot for the parks. I remember Kiddie Land and kudos to him for grabbing a classic like Little Dipper, a great guy when on the news hyping up the latest Great America ride. He really was loving it all, you could sense it and sad loss for all Chicago residents, especially the Six Flags lovers.

January 18, 2022 at 10:17 AM

I was at that Kiddieland auction and remember Hank buying Little Dipper. There was one other guy there who looked like a wino bidding against him, and everyone knew who Hank was, and as the other guy kept bidding everyone was looking at him like "Dude, do you know you're bidding against Six Flags?" With Mark Shapiro (Six Flags CEO at the time) being from the north suburbs and having Great America as his home park growing up, both the GM and CEO were in on getting Little Dipper.

I have to hand it to Hank he knew he had the best job in the chain (at least at a park level) and stuck with it. Great America is an awesome park and because of its location and lack of competition it basically prints money. For a long time Jim Wintrode was Mr. Great America, then there were a few people that were at the park for only a year (Tim Black, Ron Sevart), but then it was Hank for 15 years.

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