Statement on the Decision To Hold the Official Inaugural Ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda and the Cancellation of the Inaugural Parade

January 20, 1985

I have this evening accepted the recommendation of the Committee for the 50th American Presidential Inaugural to cancel the Inaugural Parade. And the Joint Congressional Inaugural Committee has, at my request, agreed to move the official Inaugural ceremony to the Rotunda of the United States Capitol. I have directed the Committee for the 50th American Presidential Inaugural to make every effort to develop an alternate event for tomorrow afternoon -- one which would allow those who have traveled so far and have given so unselfishly an opportunity to be a part of this historic occasion.

Nancy and I are disappointed that the weather in Washington caused this change, but the health and safety of those attending and working at these outdoor events must come before any celebrations. Medical and military experts have warned that tomorrow's weather -- which could see temperatures with a windchill factor as low as 30 degrees below zero -- would pose significant risks to the well-being of the many thousands of persons who planned to attend and work at these events. Under such conditions, exposed flesh can freeze within 5 - 10 minutes, triggering considerable danger to many of the parade and ceremony participants, spectators, and the general public. In addition, equipment would not be operable.

We are deeply grateful for the enthusiasm and patriotism which has been the hallmark of so many persons from all 50 States who have given so much to make this Inaugural a success. We look forward to seeing many of them Monday night at the Inaugural balls, which will be held as scheduled. It may be cold outside, but our hearts will always be warmed by the many wonderful memories of thousands of our fellow citizens coming to Washington this weekend to join us as we continue our work to make America great again.

Note: Earlier in the day, the White House announced that the Committee for the 50th American Presidential Inaugural had canceled that evening's National Pageant of Young Americans, which would have included musical entertainment and fireworks displays at the Jefferson Memorial.