Costumed characters in Times Square are under scrutiny. Credit: Getty Images
Costumed characters in Times Square are under scrutiny after a string of incidents involving Elmo, Woody, Mario and Spider-Man.
The Times Square Alliance and elected officials met Wednesday to discuss growing concerns and possible regulation of the street performers.
"Too many people are being harassed or pressured," Alliance president Tim Tompkins said, noting the meeting's turnout was one of the largest non-New Year's Eve gatherings he's seen.
Officials said the characters often target tourists and families, sometimes forcing them to pay for photos and lashing out if they don't. The performers have also been involved in several recent incidents: Last Month, a Spider-Man was accused of groping a woman.
Several lawmakers are proposing a licensing system to track the characters. But Tompkins noted that not all of the costumed performers are a nuisance -- some are only trying to earn a living.
"This is really only about trying to address people who are bad," he said.