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Local business aims to start a new tradition and ‘Deck the Falls’ this Christmas season

Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS — Andy Johnson is hoping to start a new Christmas tradition for you and your family.

“Deck the Falls” got underway Nov. 30. It is an ongoing event throughout the month that features a five minute, animated video projected onto the waterfalls along the Idaho Falls River Walk Greenbelt.

ANDX Entertainment, a local company that provides music, lighting, audio, video and other services for different events, helped create the video. Company founder Andy Johnson tells EastIdahoNews.com the purpose of the recurring event is to bring families together to experience something they’d see in a big city like Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

“People have enjoyed coming and experiencing a different and new holiday event. It’s not just your traditional Christmas lights, but people are able to take part of that (experience) and see it (in a brand-new way),” Johnson says.

If you haven’t been to the event or seen the video, Johnson says the World of Color at Disneyland is a good comparison for the style of animation that’s on display. It shows characters dancing across the water synchronized to music. The projected images are 100 feet wide and 20 feet tall. You can get a glimpse of it in the video above.

“We had a team of animators and a music composer piece this together. We wanted to accent what was here in the area, but also give it a holiday feel. (You’ll see) Santa, reindeer, and the North Pole. Good things about the river (will also be highlighted) and the ecosystem built within it,” Johnson says.

Accompanying the video is an indoor Christmas village inside the conference center at Quality Inn right across the street. Santa will be there in person this weekend and there will be live performers, activities and treats for the kids.

“Deck the Falls” has been several years in the making and stemmed from Johnson’s desire to create an augmented reality experience for people.

“It’s a passion of mine to (see) what people can experience with technology (and determine) what’s possible,” says Johnson.

Bringing the animation project to life was a collaborative effort between ANDX, a group of students from Brigham Young University-Idaho and others. Boise resident Jordan Roper composed the music.

“We did some preliminary testing (on the Falls) in Oct. 2018, and the test came out even better than what we thought it would be. That’s when we realized the possibilities of making this happen,” says Johnson.

Some last-minute challenges prevented the event from happening last year, but Johnson says vital elements of the show have continued to fall into place. The support of the city and other businesses have helped move it forward.

“With a first-time event, there’s definitely going to be some kinks, and some things we’re definitely going to improve in the future. There haven’t been any major surprises so far, so things are going really well,” Johnson says.

Johnson wants to make it bigger and better next year, such as adding more Christmas lights in the trees and bushes surrounding the Falls to enhance the show’s spectacle. He’s also hoping to have several different videos next year so there is a rotation with more variety.

“We get comments from kids all the time saying, ‘We just wish it was longer,'” Johnson says. “We want to make sure it’s something that’s not freezing people outside. Five minutes outside isn’t too bad, but 15 or 20 minutes gets really cold.”

“Deck the Falls” returns this Friday and Saturday night at 475 River Parkway in Idaho Falls. The indoor Christmas Village begins at 5:30 p.m. and the video will play every half hour until 9 p.m., beginning at 6 p.m. “Deck the Falls” will run every night from Dec. 20 through Jan. 1. Admission is free.

“I encourage people, especially families with young kids, to come see the animated show on the Falls and experience the magic the holiday season brings,” Johnson says.

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