Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alan Schafer's Ghost Spotted In Charleston Harbor

In the 1950's, con artist visionary Alan Schafer opened a beer stand just south of the North Carolina/South Carolina border. As Schafer's customer base grew and he added more and more attractions to his shop, the rest stop metastasized into what is now the campy, casually racist roadside attraction that is South of the Border.

Signs on I-95 touting South of the Border begin about a hundred miles in each direction. The signs pun "you never sausage a place" and read with what has likely become the cause of many a headache, "keep yelling kids, they'll stop!" Because of this annoying clever marketing and word of mouth, South of the Border is depressingly enough the first thing so many from the Northeast encounter as they enter South Carolina.

The attraction's mascot, Pedro, a physical monument to tasteless sterotypes, sports an oversized sombrero - he's the first thing you see as you enter the complex of adult entertainment shops, greasy spoons, and kitschy souvenir outlets. There is also a rusty roller coaster and an observation tower that allows you to climb up into the sombrero and see the beautiful countryside. It's a shame those who live in that countryside can't enjoy such a lovely view - at least not without the company of Pedro.

So shame on me for not paying closer attention to local news, but when a co-worker the other day mentioned the possibility of a male Statue of Liberty in Charleston Harbor, I thought he was joking. Sadly no. There is a proposal out there, (that thankfully appears to be sinking faster than the Naval vessels of Patriot's Point) to place a male version of the Statue of Liberty to welcome visitors to Charleston Harbor. The idea is to bring needed income to Patriot's Point (I wasn't kidding about the sinking vessels) and to sully become a companion to the original Lady Liberty.

And what's wrong with this? Well - everything. Charleston Habor's natural beauty and rich history already provide an enticing welcome to visitors arriving to Charleston by sea. It would do nothing short of destroy the landscape, in order to create another roadside attraction.

Lady Liberty was a gift to the US from France. She stands for everything on which this country was founded. She has welcomed visitors and immigrants since her construction. Her beauty is unmatched. Charleston Harbor has seen disease, disaster, and siege - and it remains, peaceful as ever. The idea of a contrived, plastic (in every sense perhaps except the literal) piece of South of the Border kitsch polluting our skyline is a slap in the face to both entities.

I'm grateful beyond belief that Mount Pleasant does not appear to be pursuing this outrage. The amount of money it would take the build the statue, (appx $150 million - and that's before it goes predictably over-budget) could be used to more effectively market Patriot's Point, effectively plan events on the USS Yorktown, or perhaps build a roadside attraction further into Mount Pleasant - where the only people who have to see it every day are those who choose to live East of the Cooper.

Lady Liberty does not need a husband, and South Carolina does not need another South of the Border.


Mandy said...

For the record, I have NEVER visited "South of the Border".

I, too, heard about the male Liberty and was appalled. I don't think there is a chance of it passing, but how ridiculous. I am wondering who sponsored the idea, do you know? I have some suspicions, but am not for certain.

Good post!

Jay said...

$150 million dollars? Where's the Tea Party to protest this?? haha

A male Statue of Liberty is pretty much the worst idea I've ever heard. No matter where they want to put it.

Samantha said...

God help us

Anonymous said...

Wow that is a terrible idea! And didn't at one point they have donkeys that dived off platforms into small pools at South of the Border? Seems like I heard that somewhere. I've never stopped there, but surely can't stand those signs.