Posts Tagged ‘Media’

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.


Amazing South Of The Border Photography by Bill Warren

Friday, June 5th, 2009


We were lucky to stumble upon some amazing photography and even more excited that we are allowed to showcase the creative talents & photography of Bill Warren from Chapel Hill, NC on this website. The gallery he created is called Vote for Pedro and we feel this series does a brilliant job of capturing the imagination, lights, color and fun of South Of The Border.

You can check out more of Bill’s work at

This is a little background info on Bill and a few words about his methods and inspiration. We hope to bring you more of his great photography in the future:

I am a creative photographer based in Chapel Hill, NC. I started with film in the 70’s and like most shooters switched to digital in recent years. I have become a photography junkie, one who is always looking for the next image fix–even if I don’t have the camera with me. The blessing of photography is that it continues to heighten my visual sense and awareness of light, tone and shape.

I strive to make images that stand out and this drives me to look for subjects that are unique or overlooked. First there must be promising light—be it day or night, natural or artificial. Next, what often defines a good subject is not just the features that the subject presents but what occupies the background. Unless they can be utilized in the visualization, busy details in the background tend to subtract from the subject of the composition. When the light and subject elements show promise, it is my job to visualize the composition and then make the right camera and lens choices that will best record the visualization. My shooting technique is to follow the formal rules of composition, focus, exposure and lighting and then look for ways to break those rules to create an image that really stands out.

South of the Border is a destination that meets all my photographic requirements and desires. It surprises me that I have not been able to find many examples of creative photography that have been shot there. The SOB layout leaves lots of spacing between the buildings and statues to provide multiple and un-crowded framing options of many, many subjects. Also, the flat open site provides for a variety of opportunities to capture big sky elements. Every subject at SOB is unique and the painted colors are intense. Whether your opinion is that SOB is kitsch or Americana art, it is certainly a worthy photographic gold mine that more photographers should take advantage of. I just wish it was not quite so long of a drive for me to get there.

View Photo Gallery »

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.