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SC's South of the Border highway attraction gets some upgrades

South of the Border (copy)

The 97-foot-tall sign featuring Pedro greets motorists at South of the Border in Dillon County. File

HAMER — South of the Border, a high-profile South Carolina tourist attraction along one of the Palmetto State's busiest interstate highways, is receiving some upgrades.

General manager Timmy Townsend told The Sun News that three of the shops have been torn down to make room for new projects, and several others are being renovated.

"A lot of people are wondering if South of the Border is closing down, the answer is no, we are still open for business," he said an email to the newspaper.

The corny Mexican-themed attraction is near the North Carolina line in Hamer, with a huge sombrero towering over the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. highways 301 and 501. Thousands of drivers take detours every year to visit the shops and restaurants.

So far, workers have torn down the motel, the T-shirt shop, and the Ice Cream Fiesta. They're upgrading the elevator at the Tower Arcade, putting in charging stations for electric vehicles and remodeling the Sombrero Restaurant. At the arcade, Pedro's iconic sombrero also is being refurbished.

With the pandemic causing shortages in supplies and labor, Townsend said he doesn't know when the renovations will be completed.

"It seems that COVID causes problems with everything now, as far as getting materials etc. and people to do the work," he said. "Our elevator was supposed to be operational June 1, 2021 and at this time it still is under construction."

According its website, South of the Border was started in 1949 by Alan Shafer as a beer stand.

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