South of the Border discussion
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South of the Border
South of the Border is a rest stop and roadside attraction on Interstate 95 and US 301-501 near Dillon, South Carolina, so named because it is just "south of the border" ľ the border between the U.S. states of South Carolina and North Carolina. The rest area features not only restaurants, gas stations and a motel, but also a small amusement park, shopping (including adult entertainment at the "Dirty Old Man Shop"), and, famously, fireworks. Its mascot is Pedro, an extravagantly stereotypical Mexican. It is advertised by hundreds of billboards along surrounding highways. Well-known landmarks in the area, the irreverent signs feature Pedro, wearing a sombrero and poncho, counting down the number of miles to South of the Border.
South of the Border was developed by Alan Schafer (1914-2001), who founded a beer stand at the location in 1950 and steadily expanded it with Mexican trinkets and numerous kitsch items. He had a great deal of success because of his location, which was immediately across the border from a dry North Carolina county, and grew his small business into what was, by local standards, an economic empire. South of the Border grew to over a square mile, required its own infrastructure, and had its own fire and police departments. Schafer became reclusive, building a large compound of interconnected houses outside the Dillon city limits. At South of the Border, he kept secret apartments hidden in the backs of restaurants and shops.