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Concerns rise over Times Square cartoon characters after alleged attack

Posted at 5:49 PM, Dec 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-21 17:57:10-05

NEW YORK (PIX11) –  Times Square seems to never skip a beat. There is approximately more than half-a-million people that travel through the corridor everyday which makes it arguably the premier destination in the city.

It is a pop-culture mecca for all ages and background which is why on any given day, a motley crew tends to gather in front of the Toys-R-Us along Broadway.

This is their holiday season, however, in the last few days they are all being looked at differently after a man dressed as Super Mario was arrested earlier in the week for groping a woman.

Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is the Chairman on Public Safety, in his opinion it’s time to take action.

“This is a growing situation now, perhaps we do need to take a look at a special license for these type of street performers who are actually asking for money so we can do background checks,” he said.

Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, spoke with PIX 11 News in the heart of Times Square.  His concern evident when asked, how does the public know that the cookie monster is not some perverted monster?

“I think this is one of the things that makes this complicated because there are probably some folks out there that are completely fine and legit,  but as we saw yesterday with this groping incident, where someone was groping someone, clearly there is a time when there is a problem as well.”

super mario bros

A man dressed in a Super Mario Bros., similar to this one, was arrested earlier this week after he allegedly groped a woman. (WPIX-TV)

The big issue is that in one of the most regulated sectors of the city, Elmo and his friends operate with tip sacks attached at the hips and no regulations.  This means that no one knows who these guys on the costume really are or if they have a checkered past.

When PIX 11 News asked the Super Mario characters if they had a license or papers from the city to do this, their response? No.  When asked if they have been questioned in the past, they said, “no.”

The Batman character did indicate that he had papers in his backpack, but then wanted some sort of compensation for showing the paperwork.

“How much are you going to pay me if I show you?” he asked PIX11 News cameras.

What a joker!

Fact is, according to the NYPD and the Times Square Alliance, they don’t need a license. They have the liberty of freedom of speech, “Much like the costumes themselves, the law and the enforcement is very fuzzy,” said Vallone.

It doesn’t bother Jared Sachs who is in town from Buffalo, “It’s Elmo on the outside, that’s what counts.”

Not with Kiki Campbell of the Bronx, she actually expressed to PIX 11 News that she thinks some of the characters are scary and was glad that we were exposing them for their practices.

“It’s the same thing in Vegas. They want you to take a picture but they want you to pay for their picture, and it’s like for what?”