ON the coldest day in inaugural history, with a temperature of 7 degrees F. and a wind-chill factor of - 11 F., President Ronald Reagan had one of the toastiest swearing-in ceremonies on record. ``We stand again at the steps of this symbol of our democracy,'' President Reagan said in his inaugural address, then corrected himself and hastily ad-libbed, ``or we would have been standing if it hadn't gotten so cold. . . .'' There was a murmur of laughter from the audience of 1,000 dignitaries in the Capitol's Rotunda, crowded as a Times Square subway at rush hour.
When wind-chill temperatures of up to - 45 F. were predicted Sunday for this snow-crusted city, the President's inaugural committee canceled the parade for the first time in history and moved the swearing-in inside the Capitol for the second time ever.
President Reagan, wearing a navy-blue business suit, white shirt, and red, white, and blue-striped tie, stood head and shoulders above the wedged crowd as Chief Justice Warren E. Burger swore him in before members of Congress, the Cabinet, diplomats, and presidential and vice-presidential families pressed up against the podium.
It was a more intimate and less-stirring ceremony than his dramatic first inaugural four years ago, when he wore a formal morning coat in comparatively balmy temperatures of 56 degrees F. on the West Side of the Capitol. That vista, rolling down from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial, was today a vast empty arena of red and blue chairs sitting frozen in the 25 mile-an-hour wind off the Reflecting Pool, which looked like an ice-hockey rink.
Only 1,000 of the 140,000 people who had bought tickets for the outdoor inauguration actually saw the Rotunda ceremony. Further down Pennsylvania Avenue, the $1 million presidential reviewing stand for the canceled parade and the ice-covered grandstand seats sat forever empty. Inaugural chairman Ronald Walker said that a portion of the parade would be held at the Capitol Center, a sports arena outside Washington.
At the time of the Rotunda swearing-in, there was no word on how much of the massive parade scheduled would be transferred to the Capitol Center. Originally listed: 730 horses in 35 units; one dog-sled team; 37 civilian bands; 6 military bands; 5 marching units; 15 military units; 7 floats; and 2 choral groups.
Following the inauguration of the President and of Vice-President George Bush, who was sworn in by former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, the inaugural party moved to a congressional luncheon that included mousse of sole, medallions of veal with morel sauce, and praline souffl'e.
This public inaugural was the second in two days for the President, who was officially sworn in Sunday at the White House in a semi-private ceremony Jan. 20, as mandated by law. The Monday ceremony, though, included his historic inaugural address, studded with examples of President Reagan's gift for words:
``We live in a world that's lit by lightning,'' he told his audience, ``so much is changing and will change. But so much endures and transcends time. History is a ribbon, always unfurling; history is a journey. And as we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled it before us.''
And in perhaps the most typical of the historically Reaganesque lines: ``In this blessed land there is always a better tomorrow.''
Following the luncheon and his appearance at Capitol Center with Vice-President Bush and their wives (both in blue), the presidential cavalcade was scheduled to move on to the nine inaugural balls which take place in this city shivering under the Big Chill.