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New York City Boxes In Street Performers

Robert Burck, The Naked Cowboy, poses for photos in one of Times Square's new color-coded designated activity zones in New York City. The new rules are aimed at controlling overly aggressive street performers. Violators face fines or jail time.

If you're walking through Times Square and you want to take a picture with a costumed character like, say the Naked Cowboy, just make sure he stays in his box. A big teal-colored rectangular box.

For years, street performers and costumed characters, like Elmo of Sesame Street, have delighted, and sometimes imposed themselves on, tourists and other passersby.

Now as the Associated Press reports, new city rules went into effect today that limit performers to specially designated zones, marked by large rectangular boxes painted on the street. Any costumed character who poses for a picture with tourists for tips, or anyone selling tickets to bus tours or comedy shows will have to do their business in the box.

Any performer violating the new rule is subject to arrest, a fine of up to $500 or jail time.

The new system might deter some street performers who cross the line between art and the obnoxious. Two years ago, Spider-Man scuffled with police after he became incensed over a tourist's tip he considered too small. That and other similar incidents led to the new regulations.

But for those just trying to make a meager living, color-coded commerce has its limits, reports the AP:

"Carmen Peles, from New Jersey, was dressed up as Elsa from 'Frozen' and said she was already feeling locked up.

" 'Everybody agrees, we feel like we are in a jail,' she said. "You spend an hour in a box and see how you feel.' "

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