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Black Raven Hotel offers ghoulish fun

ADRIAN -- Every year around mid-October, Emily Roseboro tries to find her favorite doll. She's been known to be quite rude about it -- pushing at people's legs and grabbing at the ankles of guests at the Black Raven Hotel in Adrian. Normally, a c...

ADRIAN -- Every year around mid-October, Emily Roseboro tries to find her favorite doll. She's been known to be quite rude about it -- pushing at people's legs and grabbing at the ankles of guests at the Black Raven Hotel in Adrian. Normally, a child's parents would try to curb such behavior, but Emily's parents are dead --as is Emily.

The graves of the Roseboro family, murdered Oct. 17, 1845, were relocated to the back yard of the hotel. Owner Robin Graves thought this would be a great attraction. It turned out to be a bad idea, as the Roseboro family started haunting the place and a few guests came up missing. Eventually the hotel was closed after guests became too frightened to stay.

It reopened in 1988, and thrillseekers began to flock to the hotel each October -- not to stay, but for a thrilling visit.

Brent Mielke, owner of the Black Raven Hotel, is entering his 18th year of running the haunted house and never gets tired of adding new scary things. Who thinks up and arranges all of the creepy,yucky,spooky props? "Me," Mielke said proudly. "I know where every little thing is in this place."

With more than 65,000 ghosts, goblins, rats, skulls and creepy things, there is plenty to see each time a guest enters.

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Upon entering the lobby, each group of guests is greeted by a tour guide, Chef BoyarDIE or Rat Boy. Miss Grimsley plays the organ, and Clarence the Butler is on hand to serve guests.

In the dining room, rats feed on whatever is handy, the refrigerator is full of delectable treats like finger foods and frozen rat, and you never know what scrumptious meal will pop out of the oven at you.

Daycare provider Hacksaw Betty is always willing to keep an eye on a little one -- she has plenty of interesting toys to keep them busy.

The Art collection is a favorite of many -- every skull or body part in it came from someone named Art.

Mielke doesn't run the haunted house by himself. Volunteers come from near and far to play the parts of the spooks.

"There are some adults that come from the Southwest Theatrical Company, and some come from the Cities," said Mielke. "They love to come in and just perform."

Mielke said the volunteers enjoy giving themselves a character and having fun with their role.

There are anywhere from 15 to 30 people who volunteer to be scary each year, and they come when it fits in their schedules.

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This makes for great variety in the spooky haunted house experience, as you never know who -- or what -- is behind each corner.

Guests are taken through the hotel in groups of about eight during regular tour nights, with their guide telling them the story of the Roseboro family.

Larger groups can enjoy VIP nights by appointment.

"There are tons of things that groups can do," Mielke explained. "One game we call Go Find Uncle Fester. Another is Lights On, Lights Off."

Mielke has brought groups of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, office parties and more through the house. One group flies in each year from Las Vegas, Nev.

"Some seasons, 3,500 people come through," Mielke said.

Opening night is from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday. The hotel, located on Main Street, is also open from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29 and from 8 to 10 p.m. Oct. 31.

VIP nights are Oct. 21, 24 and 27. VIP benefits include a 20-minute tour, which is twice as long as general admission nights, no waiting time and individualized treatment with tender-loving scares. Appointments need to be made in advance via e-mail.

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"Come in and have a good time," Mielke said. "If you get scared -- great. If you don't, at least you had fun."

When asked which scary props or characters are his favorite, Mielke just grins.

"I like all of them," he said.

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