Vendor's Heroic Connection to Times Square Will Make You Fall in Love With the NYC Tourist Hub

Tiffany D. Jackson's dad has been a street vendor in Times Square for the last 23 years. That place means a lot to her family.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Jul. 9 2020, Updated 2:37 p.m. ET

For many New Yorkers, Times Square is the bane of their existence. It's overcrowded, full of slow-moving tourists who have no idea where they're going, hot, stinky, and weird. But for writer Tiffany D. Jackson, it's an indelible part of her family's life. In a viral thread, the author explains how her dad's connection to Times Square means she sees it differently than most New Yorkers. 

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Tiffany started this thread in response to a conversation that exploded on Twitter about the "worst" places in New York City. Times Square popped up on a lot of lists, and while Tiffany understands the characterization, her experience with the bright, midtown tourist hub is totally different, thanks to her dad.

Tiffany's dad has been a street vendor in the same spot in Times Square for 23 years. It's safe to say that he has had some interesting and unforgettable experiences during that time. 

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For example, he was the vendor who found the bomb that was in Times Square in 2010. Tiffany writes that this makes him "a legit hero and stuff." But like, let's sit with this for a second. Her dad alerted authorities to an attempted terrorist attack! That's huge.

But the hero thing isn't the point of her story. There's a lot more to Times Square than people think. Tiffany knows secrets about Times Square that no one else knows. It's its own little world. That's pretty cool when you think about it.

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Tiffany grew up in Times Square. She got a graduation card from the Naked Cowboy! Do you know how big a deal that is?! That's a huge deal! (For those who don't know, the Naked Cowboy is...exactly what he sounds like. A cowboy that walks around Times Square naked.) 

Tiffany's dad, like the Naked Cowboy, became a fixture in Times Square (for different reasons, obviously). For Tiffany and her family, it wasn't an inconvenient place in the middle of the city, but a center of life and friends!

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I can't imagine what Times Square is like today. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, most people are staying home. Most businesses are still closed. There aren't the number of tourists in New York City that there once were. Times Square isn't that bustling hub right now. But Tiffany's dad is still there. 

And don't worry; so is the Naked Cowboy. Here he is posing with Tiffany's dad like they own the place because, well, they kind of do. This is certainly the most heartwarming story I've ever heard about Times Square and I regret every single bad thing I ever said about it. 

As much as Times Square is, according to Tiffany, "a tourist hell trap," it means so much to her dad and to her family. It's full of real people trying to make a living and inject life into the city, and it's definitely part of what makes New York City the greatest city in the world. 

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