Elected Officials Looking to Regulate Times Square Mascots

July 9, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

A New York’s City councilman has drafted a bill to create a licensing system and background checks for the people who wander Times Square in costumes posing with tourists, to the dismay of brands like Viacom and Sanrio reports the Wall Street Journal. There are currently over 70 mascots — many of them immigrants — working the area according to the Times Square Alliance. Several have been in trouble recently for their inappropriate behavior, including the Spider-Man who allegedly punched a mom, an anti-Semitic Elmo, and a violent Cookie Monster, among others. A licensing program, however, could face legal challenges since by definition they are street performers and therefore protected by the First Amendment. In 2011, the NYPD were instructed to stop harassing and ticketing the costume characters unless they’re found breaking specific laws. (Photo: Bucky Turco/ANIMALNewYork)