Castia Maria educational trail

If you want to follow the musical legacy of the south Bronx, just follow this trail.

The cultural center Casita Maria for Arts and Education, in partnership with Dancing in the Streets, kicked off The South Bronx Culture Trail initiative with a dinner and dance event reminiscent of the old days when the center organized weekend salsa dancing nights.

Accomplished percussionists including Benny Bonilla, Bobby Sanabria and Angel Rodriguez launched the project with a rousing salsa presentation on Thursday, April 26.

“We want to celebrate the amazing talent and culture that came out of the south Bronx,” said Sarah Calderon, Casita’s executive director.

The trail is a two-fold project – with an online map detailing musical milestones in the south Bronx, particularly sites where salsa greats such as Eddie and Charlie Palmieri, Orlando Marin and Tina Ramirez lived.

It will also have a physical trail where markers will be installed at key spots throughout Hunts Point, Longwood, Melrose and Mott Haven.

The event brought back faces of the past, as community members, Casita alumni and friends shared memories of their time at the center, a staple in the South Bronx that survived the fires of the 1970s.

“Casita Kids”, as they were called, came to the center to momentarily escape the turbulent times around them.

“I grew up in the burning of the Bronx,” said fellow Casita Kid and renowed musician Angel Rodriguez Sr. “These days I tell people to come to the Bronx before you start talking.”

Rodriguez lived on Simpson St. in Longwood where he spent endless afternoons at Casita Maria. He developed his love for salsa music in the South Bronx.

The trail’s interactive map will also chronicle tales by South Bronx residents who have gone through the doors of the center.

“It will show a healthy mix of regular everday people of the South Bronx and Grammy award-winning musicians,” said Calderon.

Several concerts, walks and other events will spread the word about the venture, with the trail’s official launch sometime in 2013.

Reach reporter David Cruz at (718) 742-3383 or

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