Good Neighbors

Find Out Why These Guys (And Gals) Mowed Lawns For 12 Hours Straight

They look intimidating but they're really not. They're on a mission to clean up their city, one overgrown lot at a time.


Every year for the past decade, a group of do-gooders gathers in Detroit, MI with their riding lawnmowers to compete for the championship title in the annual 'Motown Modown' competition.

The object of the competition is simple. Whoever mows the most amount of grass in a 12-hour period wins. Yes, that's an entire half day of non-stop mowing (my ears are ringing at the thought of it).

The group calls themselves the 'Detroit Mower Gang,' and while their name might sound dangerous, their mission is anything but.

This year, despite the coronavirus quarantine, 25 volunteer mowers joined the Mowdown last weekend to help cut lawns at various city parks and abandoned playgrounds.

Check out the Detroit Mower Gang in action at the 2020 Motown Modown....

The Detroit Mower Gang was started in 2009 by Tom Nardone after he bought a riding mower from a seller on Craiglist. After he used the mower to clean up a park located along Detroit's Eight Mile Road, he started a Facebook group to find others to join him in his quest to clean up more parks in the city.

"When the city was getting close to filing for bankruptcy there were more than 300 parks in Detroit and the city said it could only care for like 72," Nardone told The Detroit News.

The Detroit Mower Gang cleans up abandoned playgrounds and parks so that kids have a safe place to play. Detroit Mower Gang/Facebook

Now, thanks to the Detroit Mower Gang, a lot of those parks are getting a much-needed makeover.

"The reaction from people when they see what we've done is always so special," Hannah VanEckoute, last year's Modown champion, said. "Sometimes the grass is so tall kids can't even get into it and then the smile on their faces as we leave is such a great accomplishment."

Here's the group's founder Tom Nardone (L) with last year's Motown Modown champion, Hannah VanEckoute (R). Detroit Mower Gang/Facebook

Along with cutting the grass, members of the DMG pick up trash and fix playground equipment at the parks they visit. They even formed a second group last year called "Enemies of Debris," where they host trash fishing events to remove litter from the Detroit River.

This year, the group mowed lawns and cleaned up 10 abandoned parks in the city before crowning a young fellow named Gage as their 2020 champion. Along with the fame and status that comes with the accomplishment, Gage gets to sport the coveted Craftsman-sponsored Motown Mowdown Grand Champion belt, complete with skull and crossbones decal.

Tom Nardone started the DMG in 2009 after he bought a riding mower. Detroit Mower Gang/Facebook

Nardone says that, thanks to the city's revitalization efforts, it's getting more difficult to find abandoned lots to mow – which is good news for the city but could spell an end to the Detroit Mower Gang's annual throwdown event.

"We hope they put us out of business," Nardone said. "We could start a bowling league or something."

Kids are excited and happy when the mower gang comes through and leaves them a clean place to play.Detroit Mower Gang/Facebook

We love this group's effort to #StartSomethingGood in their community. Hopefully more mower 'gangs' will pop up in other areas of the country soon!

How can you start something good?

You can keep up with the Detroit Mower Gang by following their Facebook page.

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