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Proof that the gentrification of Columbia Heights is a work in progress: Three armed robbers crashed the Wonderland Ballroom, at 11th and Kenyon Streets NW, in a daring heist during peak Friday-evening drinking hours.

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According to owner Matthew McGovern, the thieves arrived at around 9 p.m. and were in and out within three minutes. “At first everybody thought they were kidding, because everybody knows each other,” he says. “And then when it became clear it was in earnest, people were quiet and let it happen.”

The bar wasn’t jam-packed, he says, but all the tables were full and the thieves, identified by police as three black males, made away with an unknown sum of cash. “They took the money from behind the register, took the money from customers, and then they left,” says McGovern, who says this is his bar’s first robbery.

Die-hard barflys refused to let gunmen stop the party. McGovern, who opened the bar with his wife in August 2004, said his patrons continued chugging their Yuenglings even after having pistols waved at them.

“The good thing is that everybody stayed,” he says.

The Wonderland does have security, but McGovern says the doorman wasn’t able to stop the incident. The restaurant has a surveillance camera, he says, which will be reviewed to try to identify the culprits.

Police say it’s just par for the season. Though neither would offer details because the case is still under investigation, two officers in the neighborhood questioned separately had the same explanation. Said both: “It’s Christmastime.”

Posted by Amanda S. Miller on Monday, Dec. 18, at 3:20 p.m.