Last updated: 04:48 PM ET, Wed March 30 2016

Is it Time to Rein in Times Square's Costumed Characters?

Destination & Tourism | Gabe Zaldivar | March 30, 2016

Is it Time to Rein in Times Square's Costumed Characters?

Photo via Flickr/Derek Mindler

As the Associated Press reports, Wednesday’s New York City council meeting was well attended, especially from people who pose in costume all around Times Square, spreading frivolity and, sometimes, demanding tips from tourists for snapped pictures. 

Like an off-brand version of the Justice League, the mob came to hear officials contemplate regulations regarding costumed characters at Times Square. Instead of actual batarangs or superhuman powers, however, they were armed with costumes that could probably use a coat of Febreze .

The report explains what was at the heart of legislation argued on Wednesday morning: “The legislation to allow the city's Department of Transportation to create regulations for plazas comes after scores of complaints in recent years over aggressive panhandling behavior, primarily from the costumed characters pushing onlookers for tips.”

Anyone who has ever traipsed through Times Square knows that it seems like the epicenter of the world, a feast for the eyes with electronic billboards and myriad opportunities for people watching.

Of course, there are many instances of pop culture figures in the form of people who rent costumes and walk around the area posing for pictures.

That fact has led to some issues, as TravelPulse has documented in the past.

Back in February, for example, a nefarious iteration of Cookie Monster was arrested when an innocent picture turned into a bit of bullying.

In that incident, Cookie Monster, Olaf and Minnie Mouse were taken into custody for the following: “the three characters blocked the man’s path, insisting he pay them the $20 they felt they were owed. When the man handed over $10, police finally stepped in and arrested the three performers for harassment.” 

The last thing officials want is for tourists to feel unsafe or bullied when they are here to enjoy an iconic part of the town. And just because you decide your life’s calling is to dress up as Batman all day doesn’t mean you are entitled to compensation from tourists who might not be aware of any unspoken tip policy.

And things are becoming dire. The AP states that there were 15 arrests in 2015, which has already been surpassed this year with 16 total arrests in the area.

Legislation would corral characters to specific zones, creating a way for tourists to lower their heads and maneuver past without locking eyes with an amateur Iron Man who really wants a sawbuck for a photo. 

Characters in full regalia as well as bus ticket officials were in attendance to oppose such restriction.

Movement and a free flow, as their argument goes, is key to garnering a healthy sum to support their livelihood.

As for tourists, we might recommend enjoying any number of the countless landmarks and attractions the city has to offer.

Some of its museums are amazing and the best part is the exhibits won’t shake you down.

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