South of the Border is a rest stop and roadside attraction on Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 301 - U.S. Route 501 near Dillon, South Carolina , so named because it is just "south of the border" ĘC 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 bandido . It is advertised by hundreds of billboards along surrounding highways, starting 175 miles away. 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 into turning South of the Border into a "tourist mecca" 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.