April 30 2014 12:00 AM

Top of the Town Awards enters Final Five round

“It was an honor just being nominated.”

That, traditionally, is what the losers say from the wings through clenched teeth and barely concealed contempt. But in the case of the City Pulse/News 6/MLive Lansing Top of the Town Awards, a nomination is a significant distinction all its own. Every name you see on the next 11 pages is a tribute to the best of everything that makes the Capital city so … capital, from Grand Ledge to Williamston, and from DeWitt to Dimondale.

It’s all in fun; there’s no cash prize, just bragging rights. If life is a competitive foot race, consider the Top of the Town Awards a downhill stretch with a cool back breeze.

The only two themes tying the contenders together are geography and all-around awesomeness. Contestants are pitted against each other in 88 categories: Politicians are up against politicians. Comedians against comedians. Marijuana strains versus marijuana strains. Only in the Top of the Town Awards could the same name appear in all three categories.

Never before has Lansing been celebrated in such diversity. Or levity.

Round 1, which launched March 19, narrowed the field down. Over 10,000 of you voted for the best in local dining, arts, entertainment, retail and politics, and now you get to vote again. Starting today, Round 2 takes the contest into its final leg, where the true winner will emerge May 21.

We asked you to vote for your favorite [fill in the blanks] and then we did the math. The list was winnowed down to a lean five contenders in each category, and now we want you to vote for a winner. (Sometimes there weren’t enough vote-getters to warrant a top five; sometimes a tie resulted in six nominees — just in case you’re wondering.) Only one can cross that finish line first.

Several upgrades from last year include new categories and new ways to vote. This year, for the first time, you can vote from your smart phone using the new free City Pulse app, The Pulse. It’s easily downloadable from your favorite mobile app store. Or if you want to vote the old fashioned way, you can go to lansingcitypulse.com/finalfive. Additionally, votes from the first round carry over this year, giving you a second chance to cast a ballot for your favorite band, burger or bookstore.

We’re not playing favorites with those bold-faced entries; those businesses are members of Capital Area Local First, a nonprofit group dedicated to advancing locally owned establishments. It’s no mystery: buying local is good for the local economy, good for your community and good for the environment.

So take a gander at the people, places and businesses on the following pages and know they wouldn’t be here without the acclaim of the people who put them there. And only the people —that’s you — can pick a champion.

Let the voting begin.