Survey: Times Square Costumed Characters are “Out of Control”

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A new report indicated people are being hassled at the Crossroads of the World. Nearly half (47%) of respondents said they had an “unpleasant interaction” with one of the characters. Another 22% (locals) said the negative experience included “unwanted physical contact” — a complaint also made by 15% of out-of-towners. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

By: Jonas Parker

Costumed characters groping kids?

Times Square used to be a place where that wasn’t surprising. Maybe it still is.

A new report indicated people are being hassled at the Crossroads of the World. Nearly half (47%) of respondents said they had an “unpleasant interaction” with one of the characters. Another 22% (locals) said the negative experience included “unwanted physical contact” — a complaint also made by 15% of out-of-towners.

The Times Square Alliance, which commissioned the report, received comments like these from locals and tourists alike:

“Elmo character tried to touch my breast during photo op then became very agitated and hostile because I did not offer him money right away.”–Joni, 68.

“I am a wheelchair user, and a costumed character attempted to sit on my lap. He thought he was being funny. I wasn’t in the mood.”–Christina, 34, Manhattan.

“Costumed character forcefully grabbed my child’s hand to take a picture, and then demanded the ‘tip.’ Another costumed person suddenly appeared and quickly took another picture so I felt forced to give them another ‘tip.’”–Anonymous woman, 38, the Bronx

“Costumed characters were NOT in the zone where they should be, and many of them come to my minor age daughter try to stop her for photos. She ignores but then, some tries to grab her, or tap her shoulder, and these unwanting unnecessary body touching against minor is really unacceptable.”–Nami, 36, the Bronx.

“A solicitor grabbed me and pushed his body against mine when I said I wasn’t interested”–Linda, 61, Tri-state area

“I kept saying ‘we DON’T want a photo’ ‘DO NOT TOUCH MY SON,’ but it didn’t do anything.”–Denise, 42.

“Avoid the Disney characters who work like a pack of wolves in this area, they will save and try to hold your hand or worse your child’s hand and when contact is made they will pull you into the center where you will be surrounded by lots of others and a photo will be taken.”

“Avoid the scammers, Do not accept free cd’s–Not Free. Beware of characters dressed up offering to take your photo, lots more will photo bomb you, then want money!”

“One of the dressed up characters took my friend’s phone and would not give it her back until she had her photo taken with him and gave him cash.”

“Lovely place but the amount of people wanting money off you and not taking no for an answer does wear thin after a while. If they just left it after we declined… it wouldn’t be too bad but they don’t.”

“Full of scammers! Especially CD scammers who threaten to punch you if you don’t give money all with NYPD nearby. Horrible place only worth going to say you’ve been there!”

“Do not let the costumed people wearing Disney outfits approach you. They do not work there and are panhandlers. They will chase you down for a tip after forcing you to take pictures”