It was only natural for Cheney to put on the white suit himself. "It's a lifetime hobby," said Cheney, who is nearing the end of his year as president.
He talks warmly of his own years on various tournament bodies, such as the Music Committee, which selects the bands for the parade.
"I couldn't carry a tune in a handbag," he said, "but you can see when a band has sharp lines, it looks good and the music is good. You're the same as John Q., looking at the band come down the street."
Tournament members--there are 850 of them now--get their kicks from spending long, unrecompensed hours pulling it all together. Tournament officials estimate that members of the Queen and Court Committee, for example, put in 25 hours a week between October and December.
The parade is an event that stitches people all over America together, insists Cheney.
"There will be 5,000 kids here with marching bands, from Colorado Springs and Springfield, Oregon, and Springfield, Missouri," he said. "My concern is that these people have worked so hard to become an outstanding band and they're working very hard to raise the money to get to Pasadena. It would be a shame if their experience were anything less than positive."
Cheney has shown himself to be a stickler for tournament traditions, tournament members say. "Sometimes traditions have a tendency to slip," said Vice President Hayward, who will get the scarlet blazer next year. "It gets so you might see people wearing red sweaters under their suits or black Reeboks instead of white bucks. Under Bob, you don't do that."
Ironically, though, it was Cheney who went against tradition in the face of critics warning that he could be setting a precedent.
"There are always those who say that if you bow to anybody that way, you end up with a political platform, which is something you don't want in the parade," Hayward said.
Above everything, Cheney says, is saving the New Year's Day show.
"It's a beautiful event, enjoyed by everyone," Cheney said. "A million people will come to the parade this year. Look at every one of those faces and you won't see a grump in the bunch."