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ALL HAIL KIRKWOOD: 2013 CURBED CUP CHAMPION!

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Something in the way Kirkwood soundly defeated Poncey-Highland (capturing 75 percent of votes) in the first round of this year's Curbed Cup tournament signaled that the neighborhood meant business. And they did. Two weeks and a couple of improbable victories later, the burgeoning DeKalb County "little city within a city" reigns supreme as "Neighborhood Of The Year" — snagging the fake but sacred Curbed Cup Trophy from last year's winner, Old Fourth Ward. In a nail-biter of a finals showdown with Grant Park, Kirkwood narrowly won with 50.2 percent of more than 6600 votes, a finals vote tally that more than doubled last year's. The difference between victor and runner-up this year was decided by just 23 votes. Hats off to finals competitors for keeping it relatively civil, and for all the neighborhood pride shown throughout this highly biased and hardly scientific yearly contest.

Back before Christmas, when 10th-seeded Kirkwood notched the lopsided win over higher-seeded Poncey-Highland, we called Kirkwood the tourney's early dark horse. And gallop Kirkwood did. In the next round, Kirkwood blew everyone's minds by trouncing 2011 Curbed Cup winner Inman Park, bagging 79 percent of votes and causing readers to speculate that most of Inman Park was simply gone on holiday vacation. But Kirkwood's prowess at getting out the vote was verified in the semi-finals, a hard-fought and narrow victory over Midtown that got downright nasty. The victory over Grant Park was Kirkwood's icing on the cake of triumph. To Kirkwood go the spoils of this sacred trophy. Lead wisely until this contest arises again. Godspeed.