Did something happen to our beloved costumed characters on Hollywood Boulevard? I never see them anymore.

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Imagine what it does to a kid’s psyche to watch Chewbacca being stuffed into the back of a squad car. After complaints from local residents and businesses about loitering and aggressive panhandling, the LAPD descended this summer and took many of the street characters–up to 30, by one report–into custody. Superman “tribute artist” Christopher Dennis, arrested for loitering, says many of his fellow impersonators have retired their costumes or gone to the Las Vegas Strip. “Mario and Luigi were the first to leave,” he says, “followed by Elmo, SpongeBob, four pirates, and multiple Catwomen.” Even superheroes are squeamish about returning to the boulevard. Dennis paid $37 for a street performer’s permit and now poses on the pier and with the multitude of musicians and dancers at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
 
Photograph courtesy flickr/popculturegeek