But this year, after a close encounter with death on Sept. 30, other people in Newman's neighborhood have rallied to make sure that all is bright on Newman's lawn for the holidays – and the 70-minute light show synchronized to holiday music goes on almost as it has for the last six years.
Thanks to the effort expended by friends while he sat in a wheelchair, Newman's snow machine is mounted on a tree to deliver South Florida's version of a wintry blast whenever the sound of any song that mentions snow clicks on. The children's squeals of delight that greet the faux flurry have played a key part in Newman's improbable recovery, his wife said.
"It's the best sound in the world," said Newman, who is Jewish. "It makes it all worth it."
Newman has been a stage manager for some big-name acts, but the reaction that he got from the Halloween show he staged last year became a matter for Boca Raton city government. A live performance featuring dancers dressed as zombies apparently crossed a line.
The ensuing brouhaha was featured on CNN, MSNBC and media outlets in Iowa, Kentucky and Texas. And his renown for light and sound this week drew inquiries from ABC about participating in a holiday decorating reality show for next year.
But the support he's gotten for this year's holiday show would seem to prove a more ardent neighborhood contingent wants the crowds to keep coming. It also raises thousands every year for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the last wishes of dying children.
Neighbor Cori Fitzsimmons and Newman's wife, Jeanne, were his legs as he directed them on how to set up lights that outline arches, piles of presents and towering trees. It's two weeks worth of work.
"He's a lovable character," she said. "He's full of interests and you have to give him credit for that."
Newman already had this year's Halloween show set up when an aortic aneurysm hit. He can't remember anything from that day — or the week that followed it — but his wife can't forget it. She said she's still checking to make sure he's alive if she wakes up first.
When it happened, Jeanne Newman said her husband's doctor told her she might lose her husband of 18 years. Friends warned her not to Google "aortic aneurysm."
They lived day by day. Slowly, days turned into weeks. And now it's been more than two months.
He has not returned to his usual work converting pictures and videos into digital memories. He's on some "serious stuff" to keep his heart pumping. And they had no insurance coverage when this hit, so they owe Boca Raton Regional Hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Hopefully we'll live long enough to pay everyone back," Jeanne Newman said.
Her recollection is suddenly interrupted by 6-year-old Johnny Peglow of Boca Raton.
"I know what it is, I know what it is," he said, holding out his hand to catch some snowflakes. "It's soap."
Actually, it's 99 percent water and one percent polymer solution, Rick Newman said, smiling.
"Biodegradable, nontoxic and kosher."
Santa Claus will be giving out candy canes and egg nog from 6 to 10 p.m., on Christmas Eve on Newman's front lawn.