It was 1968 when Henri David — a 22-year-old Jewish kid from Strawberry Mansion — first decided to throw a Halloween party. He would host it at the old Philadelphia Hotel. He would invite 300 friends, at $4 a head. And he would go all out — that year, as a satyr, with a purple cape, pointy ears, horns, and, of course, pants made of bear fur. Forty years and dozens of costumes later, the Henri David Halloween Ball has moved through the ballrooms of the Warwick, the Bellevue, the Convention Center and, now, the Sheraton, attracting upwards of 3,500 free-to-be-freaky guests — including Governor Rendell, a 12-year veteran — for dancing, drinking and the occasional dalliance, with David (now a successful jeweler) still the most famous, most mustachioed emcee in the city. Should a playful urge overtake you this October 31st, heed his motto: “Don’t come as you are, but as you want to be.”
Pulse: Philadelphicon: Henri David’s Halloween
Why Henri David's Halloween Ball continues after 40 years.
Originally published in Philadelphia Magazine, October 2008