Originally created 09/04/01

Holiday drivers enjoy Pit Stop



Katie Moquin and her father, Larry, were just looking for a little snack on their way to Columbia from Atlanta.

But the vending machine outside of the South Carolina Welcome Center on Interstate 20 was broken. So they walked into the lobby and that's when they smelled it, fresh popcorn.

"I was surprised," Mr. Moquin said. "I've never seen this in a rest stop before. It's just usually a stop-off point to get maps."

For the past 15 years, the South Carolina Welcome Center has played host to the Labor Day Weekend Pit Stop to refresh weary travelers and promote safe driving.

On Monday morning, a traveler from Philadelphia called the free snacks, sodas, and coffee a touch of Southern hospitality, said Bob Westmoreland, a sales administrator for A.B. Beverage in Aiken.

"This is kind of like a safety break if you've been driving for a long time," Mr. Westmoreland said.

The Pit Stop, which was sponsored by A.B. Beverage, an Anheuser-Busch wholesaler, also offered travelers literature on drinking and driving and Budweiser souvenirs, part of the We All Make a Difference program.

Last year, the Pit Stop played host to more than 3,600 travelers at its tables in the lobby of the welcome center. Mr. Westmoreland said the stop saw 1,000 people Friday alone.

"Friday was real crowded, but because of the weather things started off a little slow today," he said.

Mr. Westmoreland said Monday's event saw travelers from as far away as Holland.

Many travelers who discovered the plates of sugar cookies, oatmeal cream pies and sodas asked how much it cost, said volunteer Virginia Kay with the Aiken Junior Women's Club. The club has manned the Pit Stop for the past 10 years.

"A lot of people are surprised that it's free," Mrs. Kay said.

Reach Carly Phillips at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.