Tags: times square | rules | costumes | tips

Times Square Rules for Costumed Characters Would Restrict Them to Zones

Image: Times Square Rules for Costumed Characters Would Restrict Them to Zones
Costumed street performers pose with tourists for tips in Times Square on July 28, 2014 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 08 Apr 2016 09:39 AM

Times Square rules for the costumed characters who hustle for tips are on the horizon, New York City officials decided this week.

The City Council voted Thursday to allow the city’s Transportation Department to establish new rules for the city’s pedestrian plazas. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg has proposed separate zones for commercial activities and pedestrians that would restrict street performers to the former for taking photos and seeking tips, The New York Times reported.

Costumed characters in Times Square have been involved in scuffles in the past, including a 2014 incident in which a man dressed as Spider-Man punched an officer. The issue heated up last summer when topless women wearing body paint joined the fray, The Times noted.

“They harass tourists, they aggressively solicit tips, and many of them won’t leave you alone. And even worse, they get into fights with each other, they grope people, and they get arrested for assault and battery at an increasing rate,” Councilman Dan Garodnick, D-Manhattan, said, according to the New York Daily News.

“Just google your favorite superhero and ‘arrested in Times Square,’ and you will get a million hits. People should be able to visit Times Square and experience the quirkiness and edginess that makes it unique without needing to run in the opposite direction every time they see Spider-Man.”

Abdel Amine Elkhezzani, a Spider-Man performer in Times Square, said being restricted to certain areas would take a significant chunk out of his business, according to The Times. He said that only about 5 percent of his customers approach him.

“We go up to people and interact with them and entertain them and kind of convince them to take pictures with us,” he said.

The proposed rules will likely face court challenges over free speech concerns, with experts divided on how they will fare.

More than 300 performers and ticket vendors worked in Times Square in 2015, Reuters reported. Since January, 16 have been arrested for such crimes as assault and aggressive soliciting, up from 15 arrests in 2015.

"It really is a compromise to recognize that there are people earnestly earning a living, but also that there's been some real problems that just like any other commercial activity you need to regulate it," Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, told Reuters.

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Times Square rules for the costumed characters who hustle for tips are on the horizon, New York City officials decided this week.
times square, rules, costumes, tips
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2016-39-08
Friday, 08 Apr 2016 09:39 AM
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