South of the Border (attraction)

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South of the Border
South of the Border (attraction) 1.jpg
South of the Border's large welcome sign
Location Dillon, South Carolina, USA
Opened 1950 (1950)

South of the Border is an attraction on Interstate 95 and US Highway 301/501 in Dillon, South Carolina, just south of Rowland, North Carolina. It is so named because it is just south of the border between North Carolina and South Carolina. The rest area contains restaurants, gas stations, and a motel, and truck stop as well as a small dilapidated amusement park with no operating rides but a mini golf course still in commission, shopping and fireworks. Its mascot is Pedro, a caricature of a Mexican bandido.


The entire motif of South of the Border can be described as intentionally campy. South of the Border is located at the intersection of Interstate 95 and 301/501 just south of the border between South Carolina and North Carolina. The site is a 350-acre (140 ha) compound that contains a miniature golf course, truck stop, 300-room motel, multiple souvenir shops, a campground, multiple restaurants, amusement rides, reptile zoo and a 200-foot (61 m) observation tower with a sombrero shaped observation deck.[1]


South of the Border was developed by Alan Schafer in 1950.[2] He had founded a beer stand at the location in 1949 and had chosen because of its location adjacent to Robeson County which was at one time one of many dry North Carolina counties.[3][1] Business was steadily expanded with Mexican trinkets and numerous kitsch items imported from Mexico.[2] The site itself also began to expand to include a cocktail lounge, gas station and souvenir shop and in 1954 a motel.[4][5] In 1962, South of the Border expanded into fireworks sale, potentially capitalizing on the fact they were illegal in North Carolina.[6] In 1964 it was announced that the route for Interstate 95 would pass right by South of the Border, the facility being next to two exits and within eye view of the highway.[7] By the mid-1960s, South of the Border had expanded to include a barbershop, drugstore, a variety store, a post office an outdoor go-kart track complete with other outdoor recreation facilities and the 104 feet (32 m) tall image of the mascot Pedro.[6]


Initially Schafer only employed sombreros and serapes to advertise South of the Border.[8] Schafer eventually created the mascot Pedro to add to the exotic element and theme of the attraction. Pedro is an exaggerated cartoon-like representation of a Mexican bandito.[9] Pedro wears a sombrero, a poncho and a large mustache.[9][2][10] Minstrel shows were still popular in Dillon County in the 1940s and 50s, at about the time Pedro was created and P. Nicole King argues Pedro embodies the way in which people exoticized Mexico or Mexicans at the time while also remaining intentionally campy.[11] Pedro has likewise been referred to as culturally offensive, politically incorrect or racist.[9][2][10][12] P. Nicole King described Pedro’s image as a “southern Jewish guy in brown face” that was perhaps made partially in Schafer's image.[13][2] Schafer himself had previously dismissed criticism that Pedro is an unfair characterization of Mexicans arguing it’s a light-hearted joke.[14] Today, all South of the Border employees regardless of race, creed or color are referred to as Pedro.[2][15]

In popular culture[edit]

A parody can be seen in The Simpsons episode "Bart vs. Australia." Marge and Lisa visit a gift shop titled South O' the Equator Gift Shoppe. Pedro is featured in the window of the gift shop with a sign stating "Pedro Sez: Eet's High Koala-T!"

South of the Border is also featured at the beginning of episode 5 of the third season of the HBO series Eastbound & Down.

Part of the film Forces of Nature was filmed at South of the Border.

South of the Border was also referenced in the lyrics of the Animal Collective song, Moonjock[16]

An episode of Rugrats featured a kitschy Canadian-themed roadside attraction called North of the Border.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Stanonis 2008, p. 148.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Reeves 2011, p. 47.
  3. ^ South of the Border History.
  4. ^ Stanonis 2008, p. 148, 156.
  5. ^ Fayetteville Observer 2009.
  6. ^ a b Stanonis 2008, p. 155.
  7. ^ Stanonis 2008, p. 155-156.
  8. ^ King 2012, p. 90.
  9. ^ a b c King 2012, p. 96.
  10. ^ a b Greenberg 2008, p. 255.
  11. ^ King 2012, pp. 87, 91.
  12. ^ "7 Controversial & Offensive Tourist Attractions In The U.S.". Spin Media (Vibe). 10 November 2015. 
  13. ^ King 2012, p. 91.
  14. ^ King 2012, p. 93, 94.
  15. ^ King 2012, p. 93.
  16. ^


  • Greenberg, Peter (2008). Don't Go There!: The Travel Detective's Essential Guide to the Must-Miss Places of the World. Rodale. 
  • King, P. Nicole (2012). Sombreros and Motorcycles in a Newer South: The Politics of Aesthetics in South Carolina's Tourism Industry. Univiversity Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1617032516. 
  • Reeves, James (2011). The Road to Somewhere: An American Memoir. New York: Norton and Company. 
  • Stanonis, Anthony Joseph, ed. (2008). Dixie Emporium: Tourism, Foodways, and Consumer Culture in the American South. Athens: University of Georgia Press. OCLC 193911014. 
  • "HISTORY South of the Border". 
  • "In College: Bernanke once had job at South of the Border". Fayetteville Observer. 2009-03-18. Archived from the original on January 31, 2010. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°29′52″N 79°18′35″W / 34.49778°N 79.30972°W / 34.49778; -79.30972