NEW PORT RICHEY — Social gatherings are beginning to come back as COVID-19 restrictions loosen and vaccination numbers increase. It’s still not pre-pandemic normal, however.

Some events remain postponed or canceled, while others trickle back with social distancing requirements in place.

Locally, one of those annual events headed toward 2021 cancellation was a fundraiser dubbed Save the Tatas. Typically organized and operated by American Legion Auxiliary Unit 79 of American Legion Paradise Post 79 in New Port Richey, the yearly gathering raises money to support breast cancer research.

As of early March, the event appeared to be canceled, according to Post 79 member John Flanagan. But as COVID-19 restrictions began to relax over the following weeks, Legion members didn’t want to see the fundraiser skip a year.

Flanagan said the post’s lounge bartender, Stacey Turner, and its manager decided to help save the Save the Tatas event by organizing and hosting it on just three weeks’ notice.

“Everything went really smooth and it was well-planned,” Flanagan said during a phone call. “They reached out to so many members and outside businesses and everybody came through. It worked out really, really well.”

Despite the quick turnaround and launch, the April 18 event far exceeded its typical dollar amount of funds raised for breast cancer research, Flanagan said. This year’s total was $10,765 and an oversized check was presented to the American Cancer Society on April 30 at Paradise Post 79.

Kia of New Port Richey provided a number of gifts and merchandise to be raffled away at the event, Flanagan said, as well as many other area businesses and community organizations. A full list of donors and supporters can be seen on the American Legion Paradise Post 79 website at http://www.americanlegionparadisepost79.org/ and clicking on the Lounge menu item along the left sidebar.