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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Tasayu Tasnaphun

15 things every New Yorker wonders while avoiding a Times Square Elmo

By
Anna Ben Yehuda
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Although one of New York’s cardinal rules involves a perennial avoidance of all things Times Square, there comes a time in every New Yorker’s life when a walk through the unfailingly unnavigable district proves unavoidable (in this New Yorker’s case, the unavoidability comes courtesy of the Strand’s kiosk, which happens to be one of Times Square’s few redeemable qualities). Given the rarity of the occasion, the stroll inspired this slew of yet-to-be-answered questions:

1. What exactly drives someone to become a Hulk in Times Square?

2. Is that the same drive that compels one to become Times Square’s resident Spiderman? How about the area’s SpongeBob? Most importantly: Who even likes SpongeBob?

3. Are there certain Times Square characters that are considered more respectable than others? Does the Hulk get more tips than Spiderman, for example?

4. Which character gets most tips?

5. Where can one get a character costume? Is there a single, large “Times Square characters store?” If so, is it in Times Square? Or is it in a hidden, faraway place?

6. Does the “Times Square characters store” owner tell shoppers that there are already too many Spidermen and opting for, say, Aladdin might be a better option? 

7. Is there a Superman? Why is there no Superman?

8. Do you need a superhero permit to be an official character?

9. What’s the average age of a costumed character? 

10. How many Naked Cowboys have there been in history? 

11. Are there other Naked Cowboys around the world?

12. Is there a Naked Cowboy conference? Can anybody get in? Do all the Naked Cowboys attend in costume?

13. Let’s talk about the mimes. Are they considered to be the more prestigious jobs?

14. What’s the end game to this whole Times Square characters thing? Do people stick to one character forever? Are there levels of accomplishment? Is there anywhere else to go after being Spiderman, for example? 

15. Could I be a Times Square character?

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