Ronald Reagan made small talk while he waited in the White House Map Room for his cue from ABC Sports. It was Sunday, January 20, 1985. Earlier in the day, during a small ceremony elsewhere in the White House, he and Vice President George H.W. Bush had been officially sworn into office for a second term. Now Reagan was about to perform the coin toss live via satellite for Super Bowl XIX, held across the country at Stanford University stadium. As he stood on his mark and listened to the public address announcer introduce the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers on a nearby television, Reagan hinted that the public inaugural scheduled for the next day would not go as planned. “There might be an announcement forthcoming about some changes for tomorrow,” he told the people around him.
The issue was the weather. The temperature of the nation’s capital was freezing. The wind chill made it feel even worse. “It will be between twenty and thirty below zero,” Reagan went on, half-distracted by the sounds and images on the screen. “And in that, in about 15 minutes, exposed flesh … Frostbite.”