It's hard to miss the lovable mascot, Pedro and his big sombrero if you're driving near the border on I-95.
It's American Nostalgia at its best. Call it a tourist trap, amusing or just plain strange. To make certain you don't get distracted by anything else, you'll see around 175 billboards, north and south from the Virginia/North Carolina state lines to the South Carolina/Georgia state lines. And, it's lots more than just a roadside stop.
Some people call South of the Border campy, kitschy, gaudy, or tacky. But if you ask one of the millions of people whose parents bought them here on their way to Myrtle Beach, and who now bring their children and grandchildren, a better word would be nostalgic.
The 97-foot Pedro, which stands adjacent to the Mexico Shop East and the Sombrero Restaurant, has 4 miles of wiring and weighs 77 tons. He stands 18 feet deep in solid clay. You can drive your car through the legs of the “Big Man," as he is known.
South of the Border has a history as colorful as its lights. 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 gto et up shop in 1949. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, originally from nearby Dillon, South Caraolina, worked for a summer as a poncho-wearing waiter at South of the Border to help pay his way through Harvard.