Times Square is populated by a galaxy of performers dressed as characters from cartoons and movies. They pose for photos with families, hold babies and even help tourists find their way. They also demand money.
After a spate of unfortunate episodes involving some unruly performers and attention from the tabloid press, city lawmakers are looking to regulate the characters. This could include issuing licenses and background checks.
During a recent tour of Times Square, dozens of costumed performers were milling around the Crossroads of the World, working hard for their money and helping tourists get snapshots.
These two seem friendly enough. Smiling. Mickey holding out his hand.
Of course, they want to pose with the person holding the camera.
But then they get a bit too close
Someone dressed as Cookie Monster holds out his hand, but not for cookies.
After getting a paltry 50 cents, the group of costumed characters walk off
Most of the people wearing costumes just want to help tourists remember their visit to Times Square
This lady gets the all-American treatment with the Statue of Liberty — peace, freedom and the Crossroads of the World!
But, let's face it, these people are there to make a few bucks
A character from "Despicable Me" counts his money.
This baby wasn't too happy posing with Puss in Boots
The costumed characters mill around Times Square among the tourists, and are popular with families with young children.
Batman seemed particularly interested in hair
For some reason, Batman kept petting the hair of these young children.
There were a lot of repeat characters.
Here's Mickey and Minnie again!
Hello Kitty! Hello Kitty!
Apparently there's enough demand that more than one person can be dressed as the same character.
Sometimes even the performers need to just get a break
Most of the time it appeared to be harmless fun
Just tourists taking group photos with cartoon characters.
And most of the people in costumes were pretty nice
Even though they have gotten a ton of bad press in recent weeks because of some unfortunate encounters, most of the performers were polite and friendly with their tourist customers.