The U.S. Naval Academy is asking fans, alumni and others to stop throwing food and drinks at midshipmen as they march to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium ahead of home football games.
The request was made in a letter sent to alumni and posted on social media.
"The Naval Academy is very proud to be part of such a supportive fan base. Part of that pride comes from the opportunity to showcase an event that is unique to us as a military academy -- a uniformed march-over to the football stadium. This requires an expected level of decorum and professionalism when marching in ranks," read a post from the Naval Academy Facebook page. "We ask that our fans help us in 'stopping the snack attacks' -- please, don't toss candy, food, and/or beverages to the Brigade."
Naval Academy spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas said the academy has asked fans to stop over the years but the tradition, which started with midshipmen handing out candy to children, has "gotten a little more than what it should be," she said. In recent years, the tradition has expanded to include throwing or handing out larger food items like pretzels and hotdogs.
"We are still appreciative of what our fanbase is wanting to do and provide our mids with snacks," Garas said. "We want our mids to engage with the public."
The academy posted the request Wednesday, three days before Navy football is set to play Air Force, one of its biggest rivals. Reaction was split, with some Facebook commentators applauding the change while others bemoaned the loss of tradition. As of Thursday afternoon, the Facebook post had nearly 1,000 reactions, more than 200 comments and had been shared 220 times.
"Candy is the best part of the parade!" wrote one commenter.
Another wrote, "Finally! As someone who lives next to the stadium, it will be nice not to have to pull candy off my tires!"
Academy alumni chimed in as well: "I loved it when I was a midshipman, everybody did, please throw candy," one person wrote.
Others expressed surprise that the tradition exists at all.
"Seriously? Who does that?" read one comment. "This is beyond my comprehension."
In the letter addressed to alumni, Commandant of Midshipmen Capt. Thomas R. "TR" Buchanan asked fans to abstain from the tradition that dates back to at least the late 1990s.
"Before I'm accused of being the 'fun vacuum,' and aside from ruined uniforms and the Brigade acting unprofessional, we need to remember the physical security environment is far from what it was when many of us were those same midshipmen marching to the stadium," Buchanan wrote. "The safety and security of the Brigade, as well as our fans, is our number one priority."
Seawolf Brewery was one of several local businesses that shared the Naval Academy's announcement.
"Uh-oh Navy Fans. Read this and please refrain. Let's respect the Academy & Mids," the brewery's post said.
Alan Beal, the brewery's CEO, said he often shares Naval Academy announcements on the brewery's page, such as the clear bag policy, to keep his customers, many of whom are Navy fans, informed.
"To me, their public announcement sounds like it was getting out of hand," Beal said. "If it's becoming a problem, we wanted to share it."
The lack of snack tossing doesn't mean midshipmen can't accept treats.
Midshipmen will be walking along the street on both sides of the brigade to engage with the public where they can accept and distribute snacks, Garas said.
This article is written by Brooks Dubose from The Capital, Annapolis, Md. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.