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Popular Christmas event in downtown Idaho Falls canceled due to COVID-19

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IDAHO FALLS – Another community event is a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andy Johnson, founder of ANDX Entertainment, tells they’ve decided to cancel “Deck the Falls” this year.

“For what’s happening now and projecting into the future, we didn’t feel that would adequately give us the safety people can and should have,” Johnson says.

The ability to give people a quality experience was also a factor in the decision, Johnson says, and current health restrictions wouldn’t allow that to happen.

This decision comes as Gov. Brad Little moves Idaho back to a modified Stage 2 of its Idaho Rebounds reopening plan. Johnson and his team made the decision Wednesday afternoon after speaking with Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and the Parks & Rec. Department about the implementation of health guidelines within the city.

ANDX Entertainment, a local company that provides music, lighting, audio, video and other services for different events, hosted “Deck the Falls” for the first time last year. It included a 5-minute animated Christmas video projected onto the waterfall in downtown. Johnson and his co-workers worked with a group of animators to create it.

The event also included an indoor Christmas village inside the conference center at Quality Inn, featuring live performers and a visit from Santa, along with activities and treats for the kids.

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

Johnson says the response to last year’s event was overwhelming. About 10,000 people attended and he’s looking forward to an even bigger event in 2021.

“It was great to meet people in the community,” says Johnson. “I was pretty impressed with how many people had gone or had heard about it and were excited about it coming back this year.”

A frequent request from those who attended “Deck the Falls” was for the film to be longer, Johnson says. Johnson and his group of animators had been planning for that, but he says they now have another year to refine it and enhance the experience even more.

“We segmented it from just having one storyline like we did last year to having three substories, each with their own song and plot (to add more variety and appeal for all ages),” he says. “We’re going to be taking all that footage and modifying it to enhance the experience even more for next year.”

deck the falls
Photo from last year’s event | Courtesy Andy Johnson

Staying busy and adapting during COVID

Despite the pandemic, Johnson says it’s been a busy year for ANDX Entertainment. The company completed its first season as the new operator of Motor Vu Drive-in. People were hungry for new entertainment options due to the lack of new Hollywood movies, Johnson says, so he and his team got creative.

RELATED | District 91 holding graduation ceremonies at Motor Vu Drive-In and students have mixed feelings

The cancelation of high school graduation ceremonies in Idaho Falls School District 91 allowed them to provide a unique experience for graduates and their families. The company also helped raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center with a Harry Potter drive-in movie marathon.

The drive-in even attracted some big-name celebrities like Garth Brooks and David Archuleta for two concert events. Johnson says these were the biggest money-makers of the year.

RELATED | Garth Brooks performing 1 night only at 3 local drive-in theaters

“It was pretty hard, as far as what we were showing with old movies. We didn’t get as much love and support for people to come out and watch things they could watch at home,” Johnson says. “Unless there was something new, people didn’t really want to go out.”

RELATED | David Archuleta excited to return to eastern Idaho for his first concert this year

Johnson also formed a partnership with Diablas Kitchen in March to expand ANDX Entertainment’s event services with a catering venue. The ball started rolling after Diablas moved into the old West Bank property on River Parkway in June, but it quickly slowed down due to a spike in COVID cases.

“Once we went back to Stage 3, that was the strong kick that was uncomfortable because that was going to affect our busiest time of the year, which is the holiday season,” says Johnson.

Johnson says working with talented people in the media space and doing studio work has allowed them to stay afloat during this turbulent year and he’s pleased with how they’ve adapted.

Even though there has been some setbacks, Johnson says he’s optimistic about the future.

“We’re really excited for what next year has in store,” he says.

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