No sooner did the word get out that Ronald Reagan was coming to Parkersburg on October 29, 1984, when young Matthew Sweeney contacted the White House, about the possibility of Reagan’s meeting with the local scout troop. The White House at first declined, but just before the president's visit, the scouts got the green light.
"That weekend, we got a phone call from the White House," says Matt's mother and former scout den mother Cathy Sweeney, "stating that the president did want to see him, and that they would be allowed to go to the airport. And that worked out very nice."
Sweeney was also there for the meeting at the wood county airport. She remembers the president as very personable, as someone who could connect with just about anyone.
While President Reagan was speaking at Parkersburg High School, his staff was rolling out the red carpet for the youngsters. They got to tour Air Force One, as well as the White House press plane.
“It was just before his departure from the wood county airport that the president met with the scouts. And the questions weren't what you would expect from the White House press corps.”
"My son went to shake his hand," Sweeney recalls, "And he asked, 'Are you really a presidential cowboy'? President Reagan just laughed and shook his head, and said, 'Well, I guess I am'."
Sweeney remembers Reagan asking her if she had ever met a president before.
She responded that she met John F. Kennedy when he campaigned for president in Parkersburg in 1960.
The scouts that day presented Reagan with an Indian head-dress, signifying he was the "chief" of the scout troop.