Arts and CultureNew York

What it Means to be a Times Square Mascot

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Photo Credit: Animal New York

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The mascot is a sight to behold walking around the soul-sucking part of Manhattan known as Times Squares. Staring at a lonely Buzz Lightyear or a Superman is like watching an animal in its natural habitat (not to say the people who are in those costumes are animals, they are humans. But humans are also animals…anyways, you know what I mean).

image from NY Daily News

Despite this, Times Square mascots ride that fine line between being the most sought after and the most obnoxious mascots that exist. The smelly, gamey costume these folks put on retains a little bit of each of the different people one meets in the world’s crossroad that is Times Square. Every schmuck, drunk, jerk, asshole, and slob has passed them by to give them a hug, a shove, or a loud “fuck you” leaves their mark. The mascot shamelessly waves hello to toddlers in their carriages, tourists in incredibly overpriced “I <3 NY” merchandise, and the man fortunate enough (or possibly unfortunate cause Times Square is death) to work at the Swatch store nearby their post. Constantly begging you to have a picture taken with them and constantly panhandling in order to make enough to eat at some shitty hog dog vendor, these mascots are a combination of the lucrativeness of pop culture and the absurdity of human behavior. Where else will you find an anti-Semitic Elmo? People are weird.

Photo Credit: MichelleMaren.Blogspot.Com

I sit back and wonder if the fat cats who legally OWN these characters, like Elmo or Mario, ever want to put up some charges against these guys? Isn’t there some Disney executive who roams around Times Square just biting their bottom lip and saying to themselves, “Holy fuck I got to get this Woody-guy’s name cause he’s gonna get sued up the bum”. What are the legal stipulations for this kind of stuff? Wait a minute is this some kind of macabre marketing scheme for these guys? Why are the…….JESUS I got to stop.

But I shan’t denigrate these folks as some of them panhandle just like a busker or the funny homeless guy on the subway. Not all of them want to grope children, or your nuts, or your boob (however that Spongebob over near the Toys R Us has not had sex since the Clinton administration, so beware, he’s extra feisty). They too need money for rent, or a hotel, or even (but hopefully not) that shitty hot dog vendor food. Under that smelly costume, they got needs and they are willing to go out there and get that sweet tourist cash.

At the end of the day, they take their costumes off and wonder what to do next. Discussing strategies with other NYC mascots (is there a union for these kinds of people? Oh wait, I think there is) is a reasonable activity and to the observer, seeing a Spiderman and a Green Goblin convene about business strategies is surely a once in a lifetime experience. Yet these giants of the panhandling economy must not waste time in such affairs as they need to head to where/whatever they call home, and be prepared for tomorrow’s agenda of hugging and photo-opping.

An enigma of popular culture and ridiculousness, wanderers in search of financial funds to secure their broke-assed selves, these mascots take the art of panhandling, deal with its ups and downs, and make ends meet with it. A product of nature, a sight to behold.

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Zack Daniel Schiavetta

Zack Daniel Schiavetta

Zack Daniel Schiavetta is a quiet kid, musician, writer, village idiot, and student. He is currently studying at Baruch College, contributing to the Opinions section of his college's newspaper, The Ticker. He's also a history buff. His music can be found at He can be contacted via