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Suzanne Ryan and Marcy Morelock lay in ambush Saturday in the front seat of their car parked along Taylor Avenue in Annapolis. Ryan was armed with Jujyfruits; Morelock with miniature Tootsie Rolls.

Their mission: Intercept a column of midshipmen being deployed to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for a Halloween football skirmish with Temple and bombard them with confections and affection.

Ryan and Morelock, both of Washington, were part of an endangered but stubborn tradition of showering the midshipmen with candy as they march from the Naval Academy to the stadium for football games.

The two young women, both workers for the Navy, were planning to take part in the rite of fall for the first time. "We figure, 'Why not?' Plus, we get to eat it while we're waiting," said Ryan.

The candy-tossing is a practice academy and city authorities discourage, with limited success. A part-time private security worker for the academy came by to tell people lining the parade route that the candy barrage was verboten.

"This has become a safety issue for the brigade," said the man, who asked not to be identified. He said that before the last game, the projectiles included hot dogs and water bottles. "I saw a senior chief get hit by a hard candy in the head and it staggered her."

Deborah Goode, a spokeswoman for the Naval Academy, said the school has "always requested and continues to request that fans refrain from throwing candy at midshipmen."

"Not only can it be a safety hazard, but it interferes with the decorum of midshipmen marching over to the stadium and contributes to litter in the community."

Just before 3 p.m., the sounds of "Anchors Aweigh" came wafting up Taylor Avenue, followed by marching midshipmen. As they passed Rowe Boulevard and approached the stadium, dozens of people dipped into their candy bags and began the aerial trick-or-treating.

Many midshipmen plucked the candy out of the air and stuffed it in their pockets. Some made acrobatic catches and scrambled to get back into formation. Some caught the treats in their hats. At least one brought a pillow case and stuffed it with as many sweets as he could snag.

Kristen Morris of Huntingtown, who said she's been taking part in the event for 10 years, kept tossing candy despite the pleas of a security officer.

"She wouldn't listen to her mother, either," said her mother, Wendy Whitney of Tracys Landing.

After the last midshipman had passed into the stadium parking lot, Taylor Avenue was littered with mashed candies.

Patricia Jacobs, a neighborhood resident, surveyed the detritus with disapproval. "Every time I see it, I don't think it's right," she said. "They need to do something about it because it just stays for days."

But Barbara Halliwell, who lives on the other side of the stadium, thought the academy authorities had at least a partial victory. "It's less heavy today than it has been - much lighter," she said. "It's not as messy out here today."

Baltimore Sun reporter Nicole Fuller contributed to this article.

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