North Carolina and South Carolina are bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Georgia and South Carolina to the south, and Tennessee to the west. Raleigh is the state’s capital, and Charlotte is its largest city. But did you know about the attraction on the southern border between North and South Carolina?
South of the Border is a tourist attraction in South Carolina, just south of the North Carolina border. The mascot is a caricature of Pedro, a Mexican Bandido. All employees at South of the Border, regardless of race, are referred to as “Pedro.”
What is the South of the Border?
South of the Border began in 1949 as a beer stand in a normally dry county. Alan Schafer, the owner, began adding kitschy Mexican trinkets to his offerings after a trip down south.
In 1954, the site was expanded to include a gas station, souvenir shop, cocktail lounge, and motel. They began selling fireworks after North Carolina banned them.
Mexican trinkets and numerous kitsch items imported from Mexico helped the business grow steadily. The site itself began to grow with the addition of a cocktail lounge, gas station, and souvenir shop.
I-95 was built nearby in 1964, increasing the number of visitors. After that, South of the Border added a post office, barbershop, go-kart track, mini-golf course, arcade, restaurant, and a tower.
The rest stop covers approximately 350 acres in total. Pedro’s Hot Tamale, The Sombrero Restaurant, Pedro’s Ice Cream Fiesta, and The Peddler Steak House are among the new restaurants serving Mexican and American cuisine.
By the mid-1960s, South of the Border had grown to include a barbershop, drug store, variety store, post office, outdoor go-kart track, other outdoor recreational facilities, and the 104-foot-tall (32-meter) image of the mascot, Pedro. (Source: South of the Border Pedro)
What to Do and See South of the Border?
You can browse the numerous gift shops selling sombreros and t-shirts, admire the view from the Sombrero observation tower, or ride one of Pedroland Park’s attractions. There’s also a Reptile Lagoon, the country’s largest indoor reptile display, complete with snakes and alligators.
While most people only pass through on their way north or south, South of the Border is also a place where you can spend the night. Camp Pedro RV Park accepts RVs of all sizes and provides access to a pool, laundry facilities, and barbecue grills. A 300-room motel is also available. (Source: South of the Border Pedro)
What is the Controversy Surrounding South of The Border?
Of course, life south of the border has not been without controversy. Many people have spoken out against billboards that, at best, encourage racial stereotyping and, at worst, are overtly racist toward Mexicans.
On the other hand, Owner Schafer responded by saying he hires people of all races, has employed between 300 and 700 people over the years and has even stood up to the Ku Klux Klan. And he indeed operated during the time of segregation, welcoming everyone.
(Source: South of the Border Pedro)