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Latter-day Saint speaker celebrating Christmas in eastern Idaho by ‘laughing all the way’


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IDAHO FALLS – The Idaho Falls Arts Council wants you to begin your Christmas celebration by “Laughing all the way.”

The annual “Christ-centered Christmas event” is happening Monday, Dec. 13 at the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts. It will feature inspirational messages from beloved Christian authors and speakers Hank Smith, John Bytheway and Meg Johnson. There will also be some musical performances from Mark Williams and former American Idol contestant and country singer Carmen Rasmusen Herbert.

“Together, they fill the stage with entertaining stories and Christmas music that will have you smiling, laughing, and caroling along,” according to an Arts Council promotion for the event.

There will also be an on-demand digital version of the show for those unable to attend in person.

The event is being sponsored by Jumping Turtle, LLC and Bytheway tells the idea for this event resulted from a conversation he had with Smith and Johnson several years ago while they were speaking together at another event.

“Meg is a quadriplegic,” Bytheway says. “She had a fall many years ago in a place called Turtle Rock in southern Utah. She has gone through that and it’s become quite an inspirational story. Because of that, we call our little group the Turtle house.”

They’ve been doing events together for the last several years and Bytheway says they enjoy meeting new people.

Bytheway, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was born and raised in Salt Lake City but he has ties to Idaho. His maternal grandfather lived in Idaho and his career as a speaker started with a connection to Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper in the 1980s.

“I got a chance to give a talk (at a church-sponsored youth event) in Provo,” Bytheway explains. “One of my fellow (administrators) was Rebecca Casper. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. She’s awesome. We had a great time putting that event together down in Provo. I didn’t know she was mayor until just a few years ago.”

Casper recalls those days working with Bytheway and she says he hired her a few years later to help plan the event.

“It was a really fun job as a college student,” she says. “John was so entertaining and had very strong convictions and held true to his principles and his faith. He was so pleasant to work with and to be around.”

Casper says her schedule has not permitted her to attend Bytheway’s event in previous years and hopes she’ll be able to attend this year.

Bytheway spoke with about his latest book, his faith and what he feels is the greatest spiritual challenge people face in the world today. Listen to the entire conversation in the video player above.

“Laughing All the Way” is happening Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. The Idaho Falls Civic Center was originally only open at half-capacity but COVID restrictions have lifted for the event, opening up additional seating.

To purchase tickets or learn more, click here.

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From left: Hank Smith, John Bytheway, Carmen Herbert, Mark Williams, and Meg Johnson (sitting down) at “Laughing All the Way.” | Courtesy photo