Several million people followed the famous Thanksgiving Parade in New York on Thursday, surrounded by a major security device nearly a month after the Manhattan bombing that killed eight people.

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Since 1924, this parade marks the beginning of the holiday season in the United States. Despite the freezing cold, more than 3.5 million people were expected on the course according to several American media, to applaud the more than 8000 participants from all over the country, fanfares, dancers, clowns, decorated floats, and the famous giant balloons.

The NYPD has put in place a reinforced device on the 4-kilometer route with police officers equipped with portable radiation detectors, snipers on rooftops and dogs trained to detect explosives in the crowd.

To prevent an attack on the ram-car, sand-filled city trucks blocked the streets adjacent to the route. Authorities are on high alert after a ram-van attack on a Manhattan bike path that left eight dead and 12 wounded on October 31, Halloween. The attack was perpetrated on behalf of the Islamic State group by a 29-year-old Uzbek who has been living in the United States since 2010. Last year, the jihadist group claimed that the Thanksgiving parade was “an excellent target”.

In a message posted on Twitter, President Donald Trump praised the US armed forces stationed in foreign theaters of operations “facing our enemies and defending our great American flag.” He had previously spoken with soldiers based in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Kuwait, as well as sailors aboard the cruiser USS Monterey.

From his home in Florida, he spoke of America’s “painful hardships” this year, such as “the devastating storms and forest fires … the horrific shootings that took away so many innocent lives.”

The southern coast of the country was hit by giant hurricanes Harvey and Irma at the end of the summer, and Maria devastated the territory of Puerto Rico in late September. Part of California was also ravaged by forest fires this fall.

The country has also seen several mass shootings, including the deadliest in US history in early October in Las Vegas, which left 58 dead and hundreds wounded.

Donald Trump also praised the current good economic results. “Our country is doing very well,” he said, saying “the excitement has never been so high.”

While New Yorkers braved the cold, the Southwest was experiencing an unusual heat wave for the season. The mercury was expected to reach 32 degrees Thursday in Los Angeles, against 33 the day before, a record by the meteorological services, which recommended the population not to “remember to hydrate.”