Newspaper article on the
Redesign of the Famous Delray
 Beach 100 Foot Tall Xmas Tree

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The following article appeared in the Dec 18 issue of

The Delray Forum

For the first time in 25 years, 100 foot Christmas tree is in sync.

By: Fallan Patterson

December 18, 2013

    For the first time in nearly 25 years, the lights on Delray Beach’s famous 100-foot Christmas Tree dance and chase to holiday classics such as “Carol of the Bells” and “Winter Wonderland.” Former professional stage production manager Rick Newman was hired by the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative to change up the annual tree tradition based on his reputation and the large light displays he produces for Halloween and Christmas at his Boca Raton home. “We try to do something new and different every year for the holidays,” said Stephanie Immelman, executive director of the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative. “We turn it on each night [around 7 p.m.] to play a couple songs. It’s an added attraction.” Thanks to equipment donated and installed by Misner Electric, Newman who came out of retirement to complete the job after suffering an aortic aneurysm last year, “re-engineered the way the lights already were.” “The Delray system was a bit easier for me because I designed it to be a 16-channel system,” he said. “My house, for comparison, is over 100-channels”.

    The city narrowed a list of about 20 holiday songs down to six, which run on a loop as the lights move to the music. More than 40,000 people came out to the Dec 5 tree-lighting ceremony, which was the secret debut of the new lighting system. “I think people were excited to see it, to see something new,” Immelman said.

    For Newman, who produced more than 5,000 stage shows for 20 years for acts such as Jerry Lewis, Milton Berle and Aerosmith, the crowning moment was when those lights began to move. “Of course, I was in all my glory when they cheered,” he said. “From what I’ve heard, it’s the largest tree of its kind in the world. I knew the people would love to watch it chase.” The synchronized system is only turned on once each night so visitors have a chance to experience it and take photos in front of the tree with the lights staying still.

     Newman took the job because it was something new and “I do this stuff in my sleep.” “It was just a really cool thing to do,” he added. “It’s like a whole different thing. To be part of that was awesome.” As for future ideas for the tree, both Immelman and Newman are interested in changing things up next year. “We’ll continue to expand and surprise every year,” Immelman said. Newman wants to make the synchronization grander, adding more elements, such as dancing lights on the surrounding palm trees, a Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer whose nose would blink in time with the music and possibly a snow machine. His own holiday display at his home includes a snow machine that blows during songs that mention the white, powdery stuff. “The system is very expandable,” Newman said. “I’m sure they’d want to expand it and change it next year.”

     The 100-foot Christmas tree, located in Old School Square on the corner of East Atlantic and North Swinton avenues, will be on display, twinkling lights and all, until New Year’s Eve.

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