Horatio Alger festival roiled by charges

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. - A riches-to-rags story could be unfolding in Horatio Alger's hometown. As this Boston suburb gets ready for its 11th annual Horatio Alger Street Fair, town leaders are considering dropping Alger's name from the festival next year because of allegations of pedophilia against the 19th-century children's author.

In the 1860s, Alger quietly resigned as a Unitarian minister at a church on Cape Cod after he was accused of assaulting two boys — an incident that is old news to literary scholars but came as a surprise to some civic leaders in Marlborough.

"This was an absolute shock to me," said school board member Joe Delano. "That's a sad world, goodness gracious." Delano, the father of three girls, said: "I'm confident the city will change the name next year."

The dispute has come up at the same time the City Council in this community 25 miles west of Boston is considering an ordinance that would ban sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, day care centers or anywhere else children gather — effectively putting 95 percent of the city off limits.

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