NYC may regulate costumed performers

Costumed characters in Times Square: Spiderman, Elmo, Minnie Mouse, Elsa from FrozenImage copyright

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The costumed characters may have a smaller area to work in

New York City’s council is considering legislation to restrict where performers dressed as characters like Elmo and Spiderman can solicit business.

The costumed performers now roam freely in Manhattan’s busy Times Square, the heart of the theatre district.

The council is mulling rules for pedestrian plazas after receiving complaints about aggressive behaviour.

Some working in Times Square argue that the rules would inhibit their tips.

In August, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio formed a task force to combat the proliferation of the busking street performers.

The panel recommended that street performers be roped off into designated zones.

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“Come to New York, duke it out with a superhero! Is that really what we want to be known for?” Councilmember Daniel Garodnick said.

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Some performers have been accused of assault

Recently, someone dressed as Spider-Man fought with a tourist over a tip. In another instance, a man dressed as Cookie Monster attacked a child when his parents did not tip.

The legislation would not restrict any activity that goes in in Times Square now but would limit it to specific zones.

“We are not saying that all the people dressed in costume behave this way, but there is a consistent and ongoing issue that needs to be dealt with,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance business group.

A union representing those who sells bus tour tickets is not happy with the proposed law either.

The president of Transport Workers Union Local 225, John Menshon, said he and his colleagues should not be “penalised for somebody else’s aggression”.

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