THE OFFICIAL SITE OF SOUTH OF THE BORDER.

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Chilly Today And Hot Tamale At South Of The Border

Friday, February 7th, 2014

South of the Border Tourist Attraction sits at the North Carolina and South Carolina state line along Interstate 95. For more than 60 years travelers and locals have stopped here for our crazy collection of things you never knew you needed. You can get a souvenir t-shirt starring Pedro, a scare in our Reptile Lagoon, fuel for your car and fuel for your tummy at one of our six places to eat. And don’t forget some Good Ole Blenheim Spicy Ginger Ale to wash it all down.

One of the most famous South of the Border signs is the one with Pedro’s Weather Report “Chili Today-Hot Tamale”.

chilli_today_hot_tamale

The polar vortex has Pedro predicting “Chilly Today-Hot Tamale” for this winter season. A great way to knock the cold out of your bones is lunch at our Hot Tamale diner, but it’s open 24 hours a day so you can drop in anytime.

hot_tamale

We serve great Tex-Mex food like tacos, nachos and tamales. Our special this winter is the BRRRRRR-ITO. Ok, we’re just kidding but it has been really, really cold. We are known for our tasty namesake the hot tamale. You can even grab a cold beer to go with your hot tamale too, just make sure someone else takes the wheel when get back on the road.

hot-tamales-at-south-of-the-border

The Hot Tamale also has American favorites like burgers, fries and hotdogs. Our Gigantic Big Dog topped with chili, mustard and onions is a favorite with many guests.

chili_dog

Some places might have a foot-long hot dog, but how many have a ten foot long dog like Pedro? Probably not too many.

wiener-dog-south-of-the-border

And our fries topped with chili and cheese goes great with anything.

chili_cheese_fries

The Hot Tamale diner at South of the Border is the perfect place to stop off for a quick bite on your trip through the Carolina’s on Interstate 95. Join us the next time you come through.

Join the South of the Border Facebook Group and follow Pedro on Twitter. Our new South of the Border Instagram feed is great way to see our pictures. And don’t forget to tag Pedro in your photos.

Big Bad Border Bumpers

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

At South of the Border, America’s Favorite Roadside Attraction, in Dillon South Carolina there are a lot of larger than life things to see. We have a 200 foot high observation tower that soars above the grounds. You can reach the tower in a glass elevator to enjoy the scene on your way up to the top. Standing over the shops and hotel lobby is our 97 foot tall Pedro mascot and South of the Border neon sign. And in our new Reptile Lagoon, you can find of the largest Burmese Albino pythons in America. Daisy is an astounding 22 feet long.

But maybe one of the most memorable things about South of the Border is only a few inches long and a couple of inches high. Our bumper stickers are an American icon that can be found on front and back of millions of traveler’s cars over our 60 year history. No matter where you go in the U.S., you can find a car or RV with that instantly familiar logo. You know right away that those people are veteran travelers with great taste!

While doing some research for this post about the South of the Border bumper sticker, we ran across this little gem. A vintage bumper sticker for sale on Ebay for an amazing $29.95. That’s quite a good price for something that probably was free or cost maybe a penny in its day. If that is a little too rich for your blood, we found another classic sticker from the 70′s for half that on arts and crafts site Etsy.

We found some Flickr photos of more recent South of the Border bumper stickers from user Jason Liebig. This one was from the 1980′s and has that classic 80′s neon color scheme and the over-lapping letters look really nice. His next photo shows a more modern look and design from the 1990′s.

So next time you swing through to see Pedro, make sure you pick up a bumper sticker by the checkout register at any of our shops. And if you need some help putting it on just right, we even found a Youtube video to show you the right way (NSFW-language). You can follow Pedro on Twitter for fun and information, join our Facebook fan page and read all the latest happenings and news from South of the Border on our blog.

Border History Revealed

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

South of the Border tourist attraction has been a landmark in Dillon, SC for over 60 years. With such a long rich history, there have been many cards, posters, trinkets and memorabilia associated with Pedro and The Border. Many people have collected these items over the years, and occasionally the drop us a line or email to share their treasures with us. We have some great photos on our website that reflect the changes and growth of South of Border over the years. But that is only a small fraction of the images out there in cyberspace.

We recently received a picture of a 1957 post card on our Facebook group from a person who collects memorabilia about Hwy 301. This highway is the original location for South of the Border, and was the way all our travelers came to us. This changed when Interstate 95 became the main north/south highway in the area years later. He has quite few more photos and post cards on his profile and we thank him for sharing them with us. Here is a collection of early billboards from our Facebook group too. We believe these are from the late 50’s and early 60’s as well. And this shot of the motel lobby and giant Pedro sign is from the 60’s too, judging by the sweet, sweet rides in the parking lot.

Speaking of sweet rides, check out the photo album that showcases all the Mustangs from the car show held every year on the grounds of South of the Border. It has pictures of Mustangs and Fords from several decades. The Round Up at the Border event raises money for charity every year, and continues to attract more and more muscle car enthusiasts from across the country.

To stay connected to all the events, news, photos and fun at South of the Border, subscribe to our Twitter feed, join our Facebook group and follow our blog.

South of the Border- A Schafer Family Tradition

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

schafer_company_dillon_herald_2
Click image to download pdf (452KB)

Scanned from the Dillon Herald Centennial Edition
02/04/2010 www.the dillonherald.com

South of the Border is in its 60th year of business in Hamer, South Carolina, but its roots in Dillon County extend much deeper. The Schafer family has been an integral part of the community since the 1870’s, not only as residents but as business owners and employers. The Dillon Herald recently published their Centennial Edition and included an article about the Schafer family history, the origins of South of the Border and Schafer Distributing.

The Schafer Company originally began as a dry goods store, and then evolved into a distributorship for Miller Beer throughout most of the major cities in South Carolina. South of the Border began as a beer depot to sell alcohol to “dry” Robeson County in North Carolina, and has evolved into a 300 acre tourist attraction. Each year millions of hungry, curious and weary travelers take advantage of the shops, restaurants, hotel and amusements. Tens of millions of dollars flow into the local economy from taxes, jobs, charitable donations and related spending.

Enjoy this article, courtesy of the Dillon Herald, and learn more about America’s Favorite Roadside Attraction~ South of the Border.

South Of The Border’s 60 Year Anniversary

Friday, January 1st, 2010

history_donkeyThis year South of the Border, America’s favorite roadside attraction located near Dillon South Carolina along Interstate 95 at the North Carolina and South Carolina border, marks its 60th year of operation and our plans are to get bigger and better than ever before. Pedro has seen a lot of changes in the world and a lot of changes here at South of the Border over the years, and Pedro has many new projects and renovations in the works.

South of the Border began as a 600 square foot stand selling beer to thirsty patrons from dry counties north of the border in North Carolina and has developed into a 300 acre complex with such diverse features as a motel and campground, six restaurants, a theme park, mini-golf, fireworks store, gas stations and more than a dozen gift shops with everything from Mexican jumping beans to antiques. In the beginning Mr. Alan Schafer worked the stand by himself and now SOTB is run by the third generation of the Schafer family and hundreds of employees, making it the biggest employer in Dillon County, S.C.

The people used to come to in a few at a time in American made Chevys and Fords traveling along Highway 301. Now Pedro greets millions of cars, made all over the world, traveling from New York to Florida on Interstate 95, and now some of those cars even run off of electricity. And now, people can travel on jet planes from one side of the U.S. in only a few hours instead of having to drive for days. Speaking of traveling, Pedro has even seen people take voyages in rocket ships from the Earth to the Moon and live in space stations circling high above our planet.

Communicating has changed immensely in the last 60 years. Back in 1950, telephones weighed a few pounds and their use was limited by how long the cord that was attached to it would reach. The sound traveled over wires stretched from coast to coast, and operators transferred calls by switching plugs to make the connection. Now the phones weigh only a few ounces and are wireless so that you can carry them with you on your trip to give Pedro a call if you need to reserve a room at the South of the Border Motor Inn. The cell phone signals now bounce off satellites orbiting the earth and can reach nearly any point on the planet. The satellites themselves are another creation that has happened in the last 60 years, with Russian putting the Sputnik 1 in orbit in 1957. Floating high above the earth and circling the globe, they now carry every type of communication one can image. Television, phone calls, global positioning signals (GPS), surveillance cameras and outer space research are all carried by satellites today. GPS has become a vital part of modern communication and travel. The satellites send signals to small devices, cars, and cell phones that are equipped to guide people to their destination with on-board maps that are displayed on the screen or by a voice that speaks to you.

The computer might be the biggest change in world since South of the Border opened all those many years ago, followed closely by the invention of the internet. In the 1960’s computers were so large that each one would take up space equivalent to the average living room just to do the simplest of calculations. Now smart cell phones that fit in the palm of your hand are able to pack the power of dozens of those computers, and they can connect to the internet so you can surf the web while away from home. The internet has become ingrained in everyday life, with people doing their shopping, paying bills, learning, playing games, watching movies and using social media sites to connect with their friends who might live far away.

Other notable inventions, events and milestones since South of the Border opened are:

  • Microwave oven- Pedro thinks microwave burritos should be on here too!
  • The Snuggie- Pedro has been wearing one for 60 years, we call it a serape in Mexico
  • The Polaroid camera and digital camera- Pedro looks very handsome right?
  • E-mail- Lets Pedro stay in touch with his many friends and visitors all over the world.
  • Remote control- If Pedro can ever find his, have you seen it?
  • Automatic Teller Machines- Made getting more money to spend with Pedro VERY easy
  • Salsa takes over as #1 condiment- Pedro thinks plain old ketchup never stood a chance!

We know there are so many more events, inventions and important happenings in the last 60 years and we invite you to share your memories of anything that was important to you and your family, or simply tell us your favorite memory of South of the Border and the changes you have seen to our complex here in Dillon, SC.

One Sweet Honeymoon Suite

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

70_style_honeymoonAmong the multitude of kitschy, crazy and colorful items you can find here at South of the Border in Dillon, South Carolina is a small world of glamor and glitz know as “The Honeymoon Suites.” In years gone by, the red shag carpeting, beds with mirrors and sombrero shaped canopies made these rooms a surreal slice of 70’s and 80’s society that brought pop culture lovers from all over the East Coast to stay here with Pedro. Our famous billboards that stretch the entire length of Interstate 95 featured ads for the suites with the very clever caption: “Heir-Conditioned.”

Countless tales and photos of happy honeymooner’s from near and far making the trek to South of the Border can be found online in blogs and photo journals. The infamous $99 Honeymoon Special  included the wedding ceremony,  a bottle of fine champagne, free breakfast from Pedro’s Diner and a water-bed equipped suite.

This package was so popular that over a dozen marriages would take place right here on the South of the Border grounds each weekend over the course of a summer.

Currently these rooms have been remodeled and upgraded as part of our multi-million dollar renovation project here in Pedroland. Pedro’s new suites have plush beds with exquisite linens, a posh décor, and big screen televisions. We know you will find the modern conveniences and amenities of our new suites more in line with the comfort that today’s discerning travelers demand.

In addition, all of our standard rooms are being renovated and upgraded as well, while maintaining a very economical price for the budget conscious family of vacationers. If you are passing through with your travel trailer or recreational vehicle, our 100 space campground is the ideal place to take a break from the long journey. We have 30 and 50 amp electrical hook-ups, hot showers, laundry facilities, grills and a play area for the children.

So even though you might miss the Honeymoon Suites with the wild and crazy 70′s vibe, you still have 300 acres of wacky fun, exciting games, delicious restaurants, fairground rides, gift shops filled with gadgets you never knew you needed, and lots more to explore with the entire family. To make your reservations, call Pedro toll-free at 1-800-845-6011 and we will save room for you and the family here at South of the Border in Dillon, SC.

Take a peek at some of our upgrades:

Alan Schafer ~ St. Petersburg Times Article 2001

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

alan_schaferCompiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 21, 2001
view article»

Anyone traveling along Interstate 95 has seen them: the groan-inducing, retina-scorching green and orange billboards.

Too Tired to Tango? (Rest Weeth Pedro!)

Pedro sez: Chili today, hot tamale.

Keep America Green! Bring Money!

You Never Sausage a Place! You’re Always a Wiener at Pedro’s!

Keep yelling kids! (They’ll stop.)

For more than five decades, South of the Border has attracted restless travelers, reportedly as many as 8-million a year. The $40-million Mexican-themed complex includes motel rooms, campsites, gift shops, restaurants, an amusement park and a large observation tower shaped like a sombrero. The park, with about 750 workers, remains one of the largest employers in an economically depressed county.

Its mascot is the wise-cracking Pedro character made famous by the billboards and created by Alan Schafer.

Born into a Jewish family in Baltimore just as World War I was starting, Mr. Schafer lived almost all of his life in South Carolina’s rural Dillon County. He was a journalism major at the University of South Carolina, who left during his senior year in 1933 to take over a cafe and a beer distributing company for his ailing father.

After World War II, Mr. Schafer noticed hordes of families from the Northeast zooming down U.S. 301 to South Carolina and Florida beaches. He decided to offer them a place to stop for a meal and souvenirs. He started in 1949, with an 18- by 36-foot, shocking-pink beer stand just south of the state border. The nearby North Carolina counties were dry, meaning it was illegal to sell alcohol there. The next year, he added a 10-seat grill — the South of the Border Drive-In — at the request of then-Gov. Strom Thurmond, who wanted to quiet complaints from anti-drink forces in the neighboring state.

Next came the curios. One night in the early 1950s, a traveling salesman wandered in. He had run out of cash on the way home to New York City from a Miami trade show. Mr. Schafer bought the man’s stock, a collection of plush elephants and bears, for $100. He distributed the stuffed toys around his store. A week later, he had sold them all for $500.

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Documentary Film ~ “S.O.B. and the Legend of Alan Schafer”

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

There’s a new documentary on the way about the most famous Mexican themed roadside attraction in the United States: South of the Border.  “S.O.B. and the Legend of Alan Schafer” will premier Saturday, April 25 at the Charleston International Film Festival. The film examines the life and stories behind Alan Schafer, the heroic figure behind this world famous attraction. Hopefully the film will put to rest some of the rumors and mysteries about Pedro.

“S.O.B. and the Legend of Alan Schafer” was co-directed by  Jesse Berger and Nate Mallard.

South Carolina’s South of the Border: Old-fashioned Americana

Friday, March 27th, 2009

border_signUSA Today article
By Shirley O’Bryan Smith, Associated Press

DILLON, S.C. — What’s kitschy, glitzy and promoted by 175 giant billboards for hundreds of miles along Interstate 95?

The answer is South of the Border, in Dillon, S.C., a 350-acre roadside attraction with shops, restaurants, and some really odd concrete statues, including a collection of iconic Pedros, a cartoon mascot with a Mexican theme.

It’s highway Americana at its best, and if you’re driving I-95, you can’t miss it. But just to make sure, the billboards appear from the Virginia-North Carolina border to the South Carolina-Georgia border.

That’s fewer than in the past, when 250 signs ran from Philadelphia to Daytona, Fla.

Times have also changed the nature of the signs. They’ve become more politically correct by eliminating most of the exaggerated Spanish and broken English puns.

South of the Border has a history as colorful as its lights at night. It actually started as a beer stand. Alan Schafer and his father were in the beer and wine business in North Carolina, but when the area went dry, they moved across the border to South Carolina to set up shop in 1949.

Legend has it that when Schafer ordered building materials a few years later, they were delivered to “Schafer Project South of the (North Carolina) Border.” He thought that was kind of catchy and named his new enterprise South of the Border. From there it was a no-brainer to add Pedro and the Mexican theme.

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