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New signs encourage tipping Times Square characters

Rebecca Fontana

You’re sending mixed signals, Times Square. New signs have popped up alongside the eight activity zones herding costumed characters, street performers and desnudas, politely warning, “If you take a photo with an entertainer, please note they expect a tip.”  

Now, this isn’t news to anybody who’s walked through Times Square during rush hour and been confronted with the onslaught of Elmos and knockoff superheroes—anything besides ignoring them is a suicide mission. Despite characters testifying at City Hall in March, the zone legislation quickly passed, and the new signs are a nicer attempt at some form of organization for the rogue Elsas.

The Times Square website still states (a little harsher than the new signs), “You are NOT REQUIRED to tip costume characters.” Back in 2014, the NYPD warned tourists against tipping in a campaign, since none of the characters are licensed or regulated. Now, the teal-blue zones and new signs are an attempt to wrangle them into some form of organization. But, you know, in a nice way. 

Photograph: Courtesy Reddit/livings124


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